Aircraft

In pictures: Awe-inspiring aerial engineering from the Aerospace Museum of California

Rain falls behind the mighty Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-7 jet engines of the FB-111A, each of which puts out 19,000 lb (8,618 kg) of thrust
Rain falls behind the mighty Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-7 jet engines of the FB-111A, each of which puts out 19,000 lb (8,618 kg) of thrust
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The F-14 Tomcat's starring role in Top Gun led to a huge boost for US Navy flight training recruiting
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The F-14 Tomcat's starring role in Top Gun led to a huge boost for US Navy flight training recruiting
The F-14 Tomcat's advanced weapons system could track up to 24 targets at once, and attack up to six of those at a time with Phoenix AIM-54A missiles
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The F-14 Tomcat's advanced weapons system could track up to 24 targets at once, and attack up to six of those at a time with Phoenix AIM-54A missiles
The F-14 Tomcat was the world's premier air defense fighter from its post-Vietnam debut in 1972 up until its replacement by the F/A-18 Hornet in 2006
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The F-14 Tomcat was the world's premier air defense fighter from its post-Vietnam debut in 1972 up until its replacement by the F/A-18 Hornet in 2006
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17PF "Fresco E" was an all-weather version of the MiG-17 and first flew as a prototype in January 1950. The first Soviet fighter to use an afterburning engine, the MiG-17 had a top speed just below the speed of sound at Mach 0.975
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The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17PF "Fresco E" was an all-weather version of the MiG-17 and first flew as a prototype in January 1950. The first Soviet fighter to use an afterburning engine, the MiG-17 had a top speed just below the speed of sound at Mach 0.975
The United States managed to shoot down a total of 104 MiG-17s during the Vietnam war – how the US Air Force managed to obtain this specimen is still classified. This aircraft's design also had a hidden and sometimes fatal flaw – using more than half the fuel in the tank could result in a pressure situation that caused the entire fuselage to collapse mid-air. This issue was responsible for some 30 percent of accidental fatalities aboard the MiG-17
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The United States managed to shoot down a total of 104 MiG-17s during the Vietnam war – how the US Air Force managed to obtain this specimen is still classified. This aircraft's design also had a hidden and sometimes fatal flaw – using more than half the fuel in the tank could result in a pressure situation that caused the entire fuselage to collapse mid-air. This issue was responsible for some 30 percent of accidental fatalities aboard the MiG-17
The Soviet MiG-21F "Fishbed" supersonic interceptor, first flown as a prototype in 1956, was one of the USAF's most feared adversaries during the Vietnam war. Capable of Mach 2.0 and still occasionally flown at air shows, the MiG-21 was a short endurance aircraft that could fly for only 45 minutes or so, since its center of mass would move so far rearward as the fuel tanks emptied that it would become statically unstable and difficult to control
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The Soviet MiG-21F "Fishbed" supersonic interceptor, first flown as a prototype in 1956, was one of the USAF's most feared adversaries during the Vietnam war. Capable of Mach 2.0 and still occasionally flown at air shows, the MiG-21 was a short endurance aircraft that could fly for only 45 minutes or so, since its center of mass would move so far rearward as the fuel tanks emptied that it would become statically unstable and difficult to control
Small, fast and highly maneuverable with its delta-wing configuration, the MiG-21 carried two Atoll heat-seeking missiles for air-to-air combat, and did most of its damage sneaking up behind American formations, firing at them and making itself scarce before the Americans could retaliate. A limited rearward visibility made the MiG-21 vulnerable when American planes could pull off the same trick and sneak up behind it
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Small, fast and highly maneuverable with its delta-wing configuration, the MiG-21 carried two Atoll heat-seeking missiles for air-to-air combat, and did most of its damage sneaking up behind American formations, firing at them and making itself scarce before the Americans could retaliate. A limited rearward visibility made the MiG-21 vulnerable when American planes could pull off the same trick and sneak up behind it
The T-39A "Sabreliner" was created for the USAF as a twin jet utility trainer, but went on to become one of the first successful business jets
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The T-39A "Sabreliner" was created for the USAF as a twin jet utility trainer, but went on to become one of the first successful business jets
Lockheed's T-33A "T-Bird" was another advanced training jet for the USAF, and the United States also sold many of these to Canada, Japan, Brazil, Turkey, Thailand and other countries. The Cuban Air Force flew a similar T-33 aircraft during the Bay of Pigs invasion, and managed to score several kills
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Lockheed's T-33A "T-Bird" was another advanced training jet for the USAF, and the United States also sold many of these to Canada, Japan, Brazil, Turkey, Thailand and other countries. The Cuban Air Force flew a similar T-33 aircraft during the Bay of Pigs invasion, and managed to score several kills
North American's T-28B "Trojan" was a basic piston-engined trainer in the USAF from 1950 through to its final training flight in 1984
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North American's T-28B "Trojan" was a basic piston-engined trainer in the USAF from 1950 through to its final training flight in 1984
Introduced in 1938, the North American T-6G "Texan" was an advanced trainer that remained in USAF service until 1955
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Introduced in 1938, the North American T-6G "Texan" was an advanced trainer that remained in USAF service until 1955
Lockheed's F-80B Shooting Star was the USA's first jet fighter, as well as its first aircraft capable of more than 500 mph (805 km/h) in level flight. First flown as a prototype in 1944, the F-80 was originally conceived as an interceptor, but saw plenty of action in the Korean War as a fighter/bomber
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Lockheed's F-80B Shooting Star was the USA's first jet fighter, as well as its first aircraft capable of more than 500 mph (805 km/h) in level flight. First flown as a prototype in 1944, the F-80 was originally conceived as an interceptor, but saw plenty of action in the Korean War as a fighter/bomber
If this McDonnell F-101B "VooDoo" looks a bit rusty, it could be because this model is more than 60 years old. First flown in 1957, the VooDoo was a record setter in its day, with a world's fastest airspeed of 1,207.6 mph (1,943.4 km/h). It served briefly as a fighter/bomber, but remained active as a reconnaissance plane until 1972
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If this McDonnell F-101B "VooDoo" looks a bit rusty, it could be because this model is more than 60 years old. First flown in 1957, the VooDoo was a record setter in its day, with a world's fastest airspeed of 1,207.6 mph (1,943.4 km/h). It served briefly as a fighter/bomber, but remained active as a reconnaissance plane until 1972
Produced between 1935-1946, this liquid-cooled Allison V-3420 was a 24-cylinder beast that was basically two of the company's V-1710 12-cylinder engines smushed together to bring the total horsepower up over the 2,000 mark for long-range bomber purposes. With four cylinder banks, two crankshafts and a single crankcase, the V-3420 made it into service as the powerplant in the Fisher P-75A. Brianna for scale
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Produced between 1935-1946, this liquid-cooled Allison V-3420 was a 24-cylinder beast that was basically two of the company's V-1710 12-cylinder engines smushed together to bring the total horsepower up over the 2,000 mark for long-range bomber purposes. With four cylinder banks, two crankshafts and a single crankcase, the V-3420 made it into service as the powerplant in the Fisher P-75A. Brianna for scale
This Pratt & Whitney R-4360 28-cylinder air-cooled engine was designed to be the most powerful and reliable in the world in 1940. The offset cylinders allow clean, cooling air to flow past each cylinder head for cooling purposes. This 2,500-3,500-horsepower beauty was so successful that Ford came on board to assist in manufacturing what ended up being a total of 15,600 engines
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This Pratt & Whitney R-4360 28-cylinder air-cooled engine was designed to be the most powerful and reliable in the world in 1940. The offset cylinders allow clean, cooling air to flow past each cylinder head for cooling purposes. This 2,500-3,500-horsepower beauty was so successful that Ford came on board to assist in manufacturing what ended up being a total of 15,600 engines
The LR91-AJ-11 rocket engine weighs 1,310 lb (594 kg) but can produce thrust of 105,000 lb (47,627 kg). Directional control is achieved by gimbaling the thrust chamber and nozzle. This rocket was used for the second stages of Titan ICBMs
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The LR91-AJ-11 rocket engine weighs 1,310 lb (594 kg) but can produce thrust of 105,000 lb (47,627 kg). Directional control is achieved by gimbaling the thrust chamber and nozzle. This rocket was used for the second stages of Titan ICBMs
The power unit behind the most extreme aircraft ever built (the SR-71 Blackbird), this J58 Turbo/Ram Jet was designed by Pratt & Whitney back in 1956 to become the world's first jet engine designed to operate at Mach 3 and beyond. Its extraordinary sustained power capabilities at extreme altitudes up to 80,000 feet make it one of the great engineering achievements of its time
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The power unit behind the most extreme aircraft ever built (the SR-71 Blackbird), this J58 Turbo/Ram Jet was designed by Pratt & Whitney back in 1956 to become the world's first jet engine designed to operate at Mach 3 and beyond. Its extraordinary sustained power capabilities at extreme altitudes up to 80,000 feet make it one of the great engineering achievements of its time
The cockpit of an F-16B pilot procedures trainer
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The cockpit of an F-16B pilot procedures trainer
Early motorcycle land speed pioneer Glenn Curtiss left a remarkable legacy, including the first outright land speed record powered by a combustion engine, and a motorcycle land speed record that lasted from 1907 all the way to 1930. He also designed this water-cooled V8 aircraft engine, manufactured between 1913-1919, which was used primarily in Curtiss' JN-4 "Jenny" training planes
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Early motorcycle land speed pioneer Glenn Curtiss left a remarkable legacy, including the first outright land speed record powered by a combustion engine, and a motorcycle land speed record that lasted from 1907 all the way to 1930. He also designed this water-cooled V8 aircraft engine, manufactured between 1913-1919, which was used primarily in Curtiss' JN-4 "Jenny" training planes
The Gyrodyne QH-50 DASH was an unmanned drone helicopter used as a long-range anti-submarine weapon, produced between 1963 and 1969. WW2-era destroyer ships were being fitted with long-range sonar systems, but without the space for a full flight deck, they weren't able to act on what they discovered until the DASH came along. This small coaxial copter was able to fly up to 22 miles (35 km) from the ship with torpedoes or nuclear depth charges aboard. It was flown by two people, one on the flight deck to handle take-off and landing, and one in the Combat Information Center who would then fly it to its target and fire on the enemy
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The Gyrodyne QH-50 DASH was an unmanned drone helicopter used as a long-range anti-submarine weapon, produced between 1963 and 1969. WW2-era destroyer ships were being fitted with long-range sonar systems, but without the space for a full flight deck, they weren't able to act on what they discovered until the DASH came along. This small coaxial copter was able to fly up to 22 miles (35 km) from the ship with torpedoes or nuclear depth charges aboard. It was flown by two people, one on the flight deck to handle take-off and landing, and one in the Combat Information Center who would then fly it to its target and fire on the enemy
The F-86F Sabre, from North American, was produced in huge numbers in the 1940s and 50s, and frequently went up against the Soviet MiG-15 in high-speed jet-to-jet dogfights during the Korean War. So effective was its design as a fighter that the last examples out of nearly 10,000 built were only retired in 1994 by the Bolivian Air Force
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The F-86F Sabre, from North American, was produced in huge numbers in the 1940s and 50s, and frequently went up against the Soviet MiG-15 in high-speed jet-to-jet dogfights during the Korean War. So effective was its design as a fighter that the last examples out of nearly 10,000 built were only retired in 1994 by the Bolivian Air Force
The F-86F Sabre packed in six .50 caliber cannons as well as 2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs
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The F-86F Sabre packed in six .50 caliber cannons as well as 2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs
The unmistakeable side profile of the F-86F Sabre
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The unmistakeable side profile of the F-86F Sabre
The General Dynamics F-111 didn't give the crew their own separate ejector seats. Instead, this entire capsule was designed to separate explosively from the rest of the plane in an emergency. Rocket motors helped to separate it from the aircraft, and it had a drogue parachute, main parachute and inflatable airbags on the bottom to cushion the final landing. It proved successful in use
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The General Dynamics F-111 didn't give the crew their own separate ejector seats. Instead, this entire capsule was designed to separate explosively from the rest of the plane in an emergency. Rocket motors helped to separate it from the aircraft, and it had a drogue parachute, main parachute and inflatable airbags on the bottom to cushion the final landing. It proved successful in use
The Pratt & Whitney J57 (JT3) turbojet engine, shown here in cutaway, was developed in the early 1950s. Debuting with 11,400 lbf of thrust, it was America's first engine developing more than 10,000 lbf
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The Pratt & Whitney J57 (JT3) turbojet engine, shown here in cutaway, was developed in the early 1950s. Debuting with 11,400 lbf of thrust, it was America's first engine developing more than 10,000 lbf
The Pratt & Whitney J57 (JT3) used two compressor spools, each driven at its optimum speed – an approach that has been adopted by most modern turbojets. While this engine powered 18 different military aircraft, it was also used in the first Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 jetliners, which revolutionized commercial air travel
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The Pratt & Whitney J57 (JT3) used two compressor spools, each driven at its optimum speed – an approach that has been adopted by most modern turbojets. While this engine powered 18 different military aircraft, it was also used in the first Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 jetliners, which revolutionized commercial air travel
The Vought A-7D Corsair II was originally designed in the late 1960s as a carrier-capable subsonic fighter for the US Navy. When the USAF decided to modify it for Air Force use, it was fitted with an Allison TF-41-A-1 turbofan engine, giving it 14,500 lb (6,577 kg) of thrust and a low-level max speed just under 700 mph (1,127 km/h)
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The Vought A-7D Corsair II was originally designed in the late 1960s as a carrier-capable subsonic fighter for the US Navy. When the USAF decided to modify it for Air Force use, it was fitted with an Allison TF-41-A-1 turbofan engine, giving it 14,500 lb (6,577 kg) of thrust and a low-level max speed just under 700 mph (1,127 km/h)
Thick as a bowl of oatmeal, the Corsair II's chunky side profile is unmistakable
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Thick as a bowl of oatmeal, the Corsair II's chunky side profile is unmistakable
The Beech UC-45J "Expediter" was based on a light commercial transport plane (the Beechcraft Model 18), but ordered and modified by the US Army and Navy for a number of purposes starting in 1940. These purposes included light transport, bombing, photo-reconnaissance and as a mothership for target drones
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The Beech UC-45J "Expediter" was based on a light commercial transport plane (the Beechcraft Model 18), but ordered and modified by the US Army and Navy for a number of purposes starting in 1940. These purposes included light transport, bombing, photo-reconnaissance and as a mothership for target drones
Connecticut firm Sikorsky's CH-3E "Jolly Green Giant" was a transport/search and rescue helicopter with a crew of three and a capacity for up to 25 troops in back
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Connecticut firm Sikorsky's CH-3E "Jolly Green Giant" was a transport/search and rescue helicopter with a crew of three and a capacity for up to 25 troops in back
Fairchild's C-119 "Flying Boxcar" had an interesting range of uses, notably as an air-drop aircraft for paratroopers and large cargo, as a gunship, and as recovery aircraft for space capsules in the 1960s, capable of catching spacecraft mid-air as they descended from orbit using a "snatch" maneuver
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Fairchild's C-119 "Flying Boxcar" had an interesting range of uses, notably as an air-drop aircraft for paratroopers and large cargo, as a gunship, and as recovery aircraft for space capsules in the 1960s, capable of catching spacecraft mid-air as they descended from orbit using a "snatch" maneuver
Frontal profile of the Fairchild C-119 "Flying Boxcar"
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Frontal profile of the Fairchild C-119 "Flying Boxcar"
Between 1959 and 1987, Convair's F-106 Delta Dart was a key part of America's Cold War defense strategy in its role as "the ultimate interceptor." Still the fastest single-engine, single-seat fighter ever built, the F-106 could do Mach 2.4 flat out. It carried so much complex radar and computer gear to assist in its main task of intercepting and destroying Soviet bombers that it was considered the most challenging machine for pilots to fly
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Between 1959 and 1987, Convair's F-106 Delta Dart was a key part of America's Cold War defense strategy in its role as "the ultimate interceptor." Still the fastest single-engine, single-seat fighter ever built, the F-106 could do Mach 2.4 flat out. It carried so much complex radar and computer gear to assist in its main task of intercepting and destroying Soviet bombers that it was considered the most challenging machine for pilots to fly
The Grumman TS-2A "Tracker" was one of the most successful anti-submarine aircraft ever built, putting both the tracking and weapons systems into a single aircraft. When it located its prey, it would attack either with lightweight torpedoes, or with a nuclear depth charge
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The Grumman TS-2A "Tracker" was one of the most successful anti-submarine aircraft ever built, putting both the tracking and weapons systems into a single aircraft. When it located its prey, it would attack either with lightweight torpedoes, or with a nuclear depth charge
The HU-16B "Albatross" is the biggest twin engine amphibian Grumman ever made – a true all-terrain machine since as well as land and water, it can also land on snow or ice when fitted with a set of skis. First flown as a prototype in 1947, the Albatross was credited with hundreds of rescue missions in the Korean and Vietnam Wars
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The HU-16B "Albatross" is the biggest twin engine amphibian Grumman ever made – a true all-terrain machine since as well as land and water, it can also land on snow or ice when fitted with a set of skis. First flown as a prototype in 1947, the Albatross was credited with hundreds of rescue missions in the Korean and Vietnam Wars
The McDonnell-Douglas A-4C "Skyhawk I" is such a quick, light and maneuverable aircraft that it's probably best known by civilians in this paint job as a member of the Blue Angels aerobatics squad. But between 1957 and the 1980s, it served as a high-speed bomber operating from carrier ships. Indeed, late American senator and presidential candidate John McCain was flying an A-4E Skyhawk on a bombing raid when he was shot down over Hanoi and became a prisoner of war for five years
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The McDonnell-Douglas A-4C "Skyhawk I" is such a quick, light and maneuverable aircraft that it's probably best known by civilians in this paint job as a member of the Blue Angels aerobatics squad. But between 1957 and the 1980s, it served as a high-speed bomber operating from carrier ships. Indeed, late American senator and presidential candidate John McCain was flying an A-4E Skyhawk on a bombing raid when he was shot down over Hanoi and became a prisoner of war for five years
The massive thrust of the twin-engined McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II gave it a top speed well over Mach 2.2, as well as some 16 world records in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Some of these were speed records, but one in particular stands out. Operation Top Flight saw a pilot accelerate to Mach 2.5, then pull a zoom climb to 90,000 feet at a 45-degree angle. At this point, he switched off the engines and glided to a peak altitude of 98,557 feet before coming back down and re-starting the engines
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The massive thrust of the twin-engined McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II gave it a top speed well over Mach 2.2, as well as some 16 world records in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Some of these were speed records, but one in particular stands out. Operation Top Flight saw a pilot accelerate to Mach 2.5, then pull a zoom climb to 90,000 feet at a 45-degree angle. At this point, he switched off the engines and glided to a peak altitude of 98,557 feet before coming back down and re-starting the engines
Nose-on with the McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II
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Nose-on with the McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II
The McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II earned itself many nicknames throughout the Vietnam War, one of which was "the Flying Footlocker" due to its ungainly proportions. Introduced by the US Navy in 1960, it saw plenty of action well into the 1980s. It was one of the first planes to use titanium extensively in its airframe, and it was so powerful compared to the Soviet aircraft of its day that it could power its way in and out of combat more or less at will. A Phantom II flying at Mach 1.2 managed to shoot down a MiG-19 over Thud Ridge in Vietnam in 1972, marking the world's first, and as yet only, supersonic gun kill
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The McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II earned itself many nicknames throughout the Vietnam War, one of which was "the Flying Footlocker" due to its ungainly proportions. Introduced by the US Navy in 1960, it saw plenty of action well into the 1980s. It was one of the first planes to use titanium extensively in its airframe, and it was so powerful compared to the Soviet aircraft of its day that it could power its way in and out of combat more or less at will. A Phantom II flying at Mach 1.2 managed to shoot down a MiG-19 over Thud Ridge in Vietnam in 1972, marking the world's first, and as yet only, supersonic gun kill
General Dynamics FB-111A "Aardvark." This medium-range bomber was based on the F-111 fighter, and was the first production aircraft to use "swing-wing" technology, allowing slow landing speeds as well as a blistering Mach 2.7 top speed at altitude. This was also the first aircraft with automatic terrain-following radar, as well as the explosively detachable crew capsule seen above, which ejected the crew in a survivable pod with its own parachutes and landing airbags
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General Dynamics FB-111A "Aardvark." This medium-range bomber was based on the F-111 fighter, and was the first production aircraft to use "swing-wing" technology, allowing slow landing speeds as well as a blistering Mach 2.7 top speed at altitude. This was also the first aircraft with automatic terrain-following radar, as well as the explosively detachable crew capsule seen above, which ejected the crew in a survivable pod with its own parachutes and landing airbags
Rain falls behind the mighty Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-7 jet engines of the FB-111A, each of which puts out 19,000 lb (8,618 kg) of thrust
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Rain falls behind the mighty Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-7 jet engines of the FB-111A, each of which puts out 19,000 lb (8,618 kg) of thrust
The Republic F-105D "Thunderchief" (THUD) was considered the best fighter/bomber in the Vietnam war, thanks to its high speed performance at low altitudes and Mach 2.25 top speed at 36,000 ft (11,000 m). As well as nuclear weapons and heavy bomb loads (which could be switched out with larger fuel tanks for extended range missions), it carried a 20mm gatling-type gun
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The Republic F-105D "Thunderchief" (THUD) was considered the best fighter/bomber in the Vietnam war, thanks to its high speed performance at low altitudes and Mach 2.25 top speed at 36,000 ft (11,000 m). As well as nuclear weapons and heavy bomb loads (which could be switched out with larger fuel tanks for extended range missions), it carried a 20mm gatling-type gun
The Convair F-102A "Delta Dagger" was a late 1950s American interceptor designed to intercept and neutralize Soviet strategic bombers during the Cold War. After initial struggles breaking through the speed of sound, the F-102 became the US Air Force's first operational supersonic interceptor and delta-wing fighter with a top speed of Mach 1.2
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The Convair F-102A "Delta Dagger" was a late 1950s American interceptor designed to intercept and neutralize Soviet strategic bombers during the Cold War. After initial struggles breaking through the speed of sound, the F-102 became the US Air Force's first operational supersonic interceptor and delta-wing fighter with a top speed of Mach 1.2
Lockheed's F-104B "Starfighter" was designed as a Mach 2.2 interceptor and air superiority fighter. Its exceptionally small, thin wingspan of just 21 ft (6.4 m) meant that it needed to blow air back from the engine over the upper wing surface in order to generate lift at low speeds. Its top speed was limited not by drag or engine thrust limitations, but by temperature, caused by air friction on its aluminum airframe. This example was used by NASA to train pilots on how to land both the Space Shuttle and the X-15, and also as a chase aircraft
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Lockheed's F-104B "Starfighter" was designed as a Mach 2.2 interceptor and air superiority fighter. Its exceptionally small, thin wingspan of just 21 ft (6.4 m) meant that it needed to blow air back from the engine over the upper wing surface in order to generate lift at low speeds. Its top speed was limited not by drag or engine thrust limitations, but by temperature, caused by air friction on its aluminum airframe. This example was used by NASA to train pilots on how to land both the Space Shuttle and the X-15, and also as a chase aircraft

The military is always ahead of the civilian world when it comes to new technologies, and it's staggering to look back and see just how advanced aviation was as early as the 1950s and 60s, with supersonic jets, long-range remote-control helicopters, and all sorts of other innovations that feel way before their time.

Just north-east of Sacramento, on the grounds of the former McClellan Air Force Base, sits the Aerospace Museum of California that features a fascinating collection of aircraft and engines, with a particular focus on the fast and furious jet fighters and interceptors of the Cold War era. New Atlas dropped by for a visit and here are a few of our favorite exhibits, with many more in our gallery.

F-14 tomcat

The F-14 Tomcat was the world's premier air defense fighter from its post-Vietnam debut in 1972 up until its replacement by the F/A-18 Hornet in 2006
The F-14 Tomcat was the world's premier air defense fighter from its post-Vietnam debut in 1972 up until its replacement by the F/A-18 Hornet in 2006

With variable sweep wings (capable of asymmetric flight and designed to automatically adjust their angle for the optimum lift to drag ratio as speeds change), the F-14 Tomcat was the world's premier air defense fighter from its post-Vietnam debut in 1972 up until its replacement by the F/A-18 Hornet in 2006. It had a top speed of Mach 2.34 and a blistering climb rate over 45,000 feet (13,700 m) per minute.

Convair F-106 Delta Dart

Between 1959 and 1987, Convair's F-106 Delta Dart was a key part of America's Cold War defense strategy in its role as "the ultimate interceptor." Still the fastest single-engine, single-seat fighter ever built, the F-106 could do Mach 2.4 flat out. It carried so much complex radar and computer gear to assist in its main task of intercepting and destroying Soviet bombers that it was considered the most challenging machine for pilots to fly
Between 1959 and 1987, Convair's F-106 Delta Dart was a key part of America's Cold War defense strategy in its role as "the ultimate interceptor." Still the fastest single-engine, single-seat fighter ever built, the F-106 could do Mach 2.4 flat out. It carried so much complex radar and computer gear to assist in its main task of intercepting and destroying Soviet bombers that it was considered the most challenging machine for pilots to fly

Between 1959 and 1987, Convair's F-106 Delta Dart was a key part of America's Cold War defense strategy in its role as "the ultimate interceptor." Still the fastest single-engine, single-seat fighter ever built, the F-106 could do Mach 2.4 flat out. It carried so much complex radar and computer gear to assist in its main task of intercepting and destroying Soviet bombers that it was considered the most challenging machine for pilots to fly.

Lockheed F-104B "Starfighter"

Lockheed's F-104B "Starfighter" was designed as a Mach 2.2 interceptor and air superiority fighter. Its exceptionally small, thin wingspan of just 21 ft (6.4 m) meant that it needed to blow air back from the engine over the upper wing surface in order to generate lift at low speeds. Its top speed was limited not by drag or engine thrust limitations, but by temperature, caused by air friction on its aluminum airframe. This example was used by NASA to train pilots on how to land both the Space Shuttle and the X-15, and also as a chase aircraft
Lockheed's F-104B "Starfighter" was designed as a Mach 2.2 interceptor and air superiority fighter. Its exceptionally small, thin wingspan of just 21 ft (6.4 m) meant that it needed to blow air back from the engine over the upper wing surface in order to generate lift at low speeds. Its top speed was limited not by drag or engine thrust limitations, but by temperature, caused by air friction on its aluminum airframe. This example was used by NASA to train pilots on how to land both the Space Shuttle and the X-15, and also as a chase aircraft

Lockheed's F-104B "Starfighter" was designed as a Mach 2.2 interceptor and air superiority fighter. Its exceptionally small, thin wingspan of just 21 ft (6.4 m) meant that it needed to blow air back from the engine over the upper wing surface in order to generate lift at low speeds. Its top speed was limited not by drag or engine thrust limitations, but by temperature, caused by air friction on its aluminum airframe. This example was used by NASA to train pilots on how to land both the Space Shuttle and the X-15, and also as a chase aircraft.

Pratt & Whitney J58 Turbo/Ram jet

The power unit behind the most extreme aircraft ever built (the SR-71 Blackbird), this J58 Turbo/Ram Jet was designed by Pratt & Whitney back in 1956 to become the world's first jet engine designed to operate at Mach 3 and beyond. Its extraordinary sustained power capabilities at extreme altitudes up to 80,000 feet make it one of the great engineering achievements of its time
The power unit behind the most extreme aircraft ever built (the SR-71 Blackbird), this J58 Turbo/Ram Jet was designed by Pratt & Whitney back in 1956 to become the world's first jet engine designed to operate at Mach 3 and beyond. Its extraordinary sustained power capabilities at extreme altitudes up to 80,000 feet make it one of the great engineering achievements of its time

The power unit behind the most extreme aircraft ever built (the SR-71 Blackbird), this J58 Turbo/Ram Jet was designed by Pratt & Whitney back in 1956 to become the world's first jet engine designed to operate at Mach 3 and beyond. Its extraordinary sustained power capabilities at extreme altitudes up to 80,000 ft (24,400 m) make it one of the great engineering achievements of its time.

Gyrodyne QH-50 DASH

The Gyrodyne QH-50 DASH was an unmanned drone helicopter used as a long-range anti-submarine weapon, produced between 1963 and 1969. WW2-era destroyer ships were being fitted with long-range sonar systems, but without the space for a full flight deck, they weren't able to act on what they discovered until the DASH came along. This small coaxial copter was able to fly up to 22 miles (35 km) from the ship with torpedoes or nuclear depth charges aboard. It was flown by two people, one on the flight deck to handle take-off and landing, and one in the Combat Information Center who would then fly it to its target and fire on the enemy
The Gyrodyne QH-50 DASH was an unmanned drone helicopter used as a long-range anti-submarine weapon, produced between 1963 and 1969. WW2-era destroyer ships were being fitted with long-range sonar systems, but without the space for a full flight deck, they weren't able to act on what they discovered until the DASH came along. This small coaxial copter was able to fly up to 22 miles (35 km) from the ship with torpedoes or nuclear depth charges aboard. It was flown by two people, one on the flight deck to handle take-off and landing, and one in the Combat Information Center who would then fly it to its target and fire on the enemy

The Gyrodyne QH-50 DASH was an unmanned drone helicopter used as a long-range anti-submarine weapon, produced between 1963 and 1969. WW2-era destroyer ships were being fitted with long-range sonar systems, but without the space for a full flight deck, they weren't able to act on what they discovered until the DASH came along.

This small coaxial copter was able to fly up to 22 miles (35 km) from the ship with torpedoes or nuclear depth charges aboard. It was flown by two people, one on the flight deck of the ship to handle take-off and landing, and one in the Combat Information Center who would then fly it to its target and fire on the enemy.

There's plenty more in the gallery, jump in!

Source: Aerospace Museum of California

4 comments
guzmanchinky
I'll have to check that out next time I'm in Northern California, thanks!
Bionic88
I was in the Navy for the last deployment of the F-14 on the USS Truman. It was all engine!! I was one of the maintainers that gave the final thumbs up for an aircrafts launch(final checker)..we knelt within a few feet on both sides of the plane. I worked on and launched a different aircraft, but I was in arms reach of the other planes launching(Google "carrier launch" for a better understanding) And when you're that close to an F-14 coming up on power it feels like your brains going to shake out of your skull. It was still the fastest aircraft we had when it retired. Maintenance cost and mission capability did it in. It was good at carrying big ordinance and going fast and not much more. The F-18 filled that role plus some..it basically helped retire 3 aircraft while I was in. Even at the risk of getting shaking Sailor syndrome, I wouldn't have given up the opportunity to be that close to such an iconic aircraft. :)
paul314
Nuclear depth charges. From 50 years distance we can breathe a sigh of relief those never got used. (The F-104 was also sometimes known as "the flying coffin" because of its extraordinarily unforgiving flight characteristics. Especially in the hands of our german allies, who didn't go so much for the supersonic interceptor part but rather trained for nap-of-earth flight in winding river valleys.)
Douglas Bennett Rogers
Brings back Captain Midnight!
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