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Greatest Fighter Aircraft - Ever?

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posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 03:20 PM
So, yet again, following my earlier 'Greatest Tank - Ever?' thread, Brit Tv have just finshed a 'Greatest Fighter Aircraft - Ever?' programme.

No. 10 (not surprisingly) was the F-117A Nighthawk. 'Not really a fighter, but a bomber' was how one Yank pilot - a vet of Iraq and Bosnia/Kosovo, described it. In his view - a fighter must be able to 'mix it' with other aircraft to be called a fighter. He also said that it could only be 'really' stealthy in fine weather really? I thought I'd been saying that for months.

No.9 is the DR I Fokker Triplane. Fasted climbing and so manoeuverable. High ceilling (10,000 feet in 3 minutes) and 115 mph coupled with twin machineguns that fired 'through' the propellor made it an awesome fighter but aerodynamically unsound. It helped Manfred von Richthoven to 80 kills and his Jagdstaffel were the knights of the air - well, until Albert Ball came along - or was it Snoopy?

No.8 was the Mitsubishi Zero. Allegedly out flew and out fought any allied aircraft until later in the war. 4,500 feet per minute in a near vertical climb.
Yanks captured one in Alaska in 1942 and find it could not stand any speed over 350 mph in a straight power dive. Another drawback was lack of pilot protection - one of the reasons it became a flying bomb for kamikaze.

No.7 the Harrier GR3. VSTOL says it all. Only lack of size, ordnance prevents it from becoming one of the truely great a/c. However, in air to air combat in the Falklands War, it shot down 33 Argentinian aircraft without loss. Main big drawback - lots of heat for infra red missiles.

No. 6 is the F-86 Sabre. The 'Top Gun' of first generation jet combat aircraft.
It out flew the 'state of the art' MiG 15s MiG17s and could hold it's own against the newer MiG 21s. It's suggested that Chuck Yeager was beaten to breaking the sound barrier by a Sabre in a nose down dive. 6 nose guns and 8 rockets made this sleek a/c the best - until it was withdrawn in the late 50s.

No. 5 the Messerschmidt Bf 109. Good gun platform, good turning and climbing rate. Oscar Boesch - a triple ace - said of them, you could fire from 300 yards away and guarente a kill, especially if on an enemy's tail. Most produced German fighter in WWII and with it's innovative cannon firing through the engine, the only drawback was take off and landing and of course of the 30,000 produced, most were lost in those types of accidents.

No 4 is the F-18 Super Hornet. Top speed 1200 mph or under Mach 2. Bombs, 20 mm gatlin gun and only 2 lost to enemy fire in Iraq. A Yank 'Top Gun' said the only problem with the Hornet is the new $100,000 helmet which allows us to 'shoot down what we look at' and at times, the heads up displays on the dark vizor, gives the pilot 'helmet fires' - i.e, it multi-tasks when you're trying to drop bombs or fight enemy a/c, when it goes into alarm mode and 'wont quit until you've dealt with what it's screaming at you!' That is why the Hornet comes in at No.4 - I would have put it higher.

No 3 was the MiG 21. WHAT? A rocket with wings! Most ever produced fighter jet in the world. 1400 mph, resiliant, could even fly with ice on it's wings. Not a dog-fighter, if rolled too quickly it would 'spin and stall' and unless you were really good, you crashed! In one Rumanian pilot's view, 'the wings were too small, not big enough for external weapons, did not carry enough ammunition for the cannons and did not have the endurance'. But it could do what it was designed to do - take on enemy bombers head on and knock them out of the sky!

No 2 is the Supermarine Spitfire. This a/c above all others, is the 'daddy' of air to air combat. Sleek, sturdy, 8 x .50 Brownings or 8 x .30 Brownings or even 6 x .50 Brownings and 2 x 20mm cannon, the 'Spit' created air superiority when the much vaunted Luftwaffe controlled the skies over Europe. It carved a path through the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain and, at the height of the battle when Goering asked Adolf Galland what he wanted, Galland famously replied, quote, Give me a Wing of Spitfires!unquote The only drawback to this aircraft, was it's lack of range. It could not escort Brit bombers to Germany and back which is why, in the view of the fighter pilots of today........................

The 'Greatest Fighter Aircraft - Ever?' was the North American P-51 Mustang! A top speed of 440 mph - 50 mph over the Me 109G, it produced over 250 US 'aces', could out fly, out climb, out maneouver, out fight any enemy aircraft in the sky. The Me109G and Focke-Wolf 190s were no match for it and again, a famous quote from Goeing 'I knew we had lost the war, when I saw Mustangs escorting B-17s over Berlin!' I think that says it all.

When it first saw action, it was powered by the Alison engine, but once they were fitted with the RollsRoyce Merlins, then nothing could touch it. It ruled the sky over Germany and even the Me 262 Bs were no match for them in a straight fight.

The Israelis used them to knock down telegraph poles with their wings[!]during the Six Day War of 1967, so robustly were they built. Amazing!

However, as a Brit whose mother lived through the Blitz, there can only be one aircraft that I hold dear and sorry guys - it's the Spit.

Whenever I hear the low menacing growl of a Merlin in the sky, I think 'Spit!' and look for it. It's a 'Bluejob' thing.

posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 03:37 PM
Been done:

I still like the P51 Mustang though

posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 03:56 PM
I wonder why they didn't put the Me262 or something like that on there. Like the first jet engine aircraft ever.

Though I'll go with the P-51. My grandfather was a pilot in WWII, and he said he flew a lot of planes, and the P-51 he said was the only one he ever felt sure he could put his faith in to get him home safe.

[edit on 11/7/05 by SFRemmy]

posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 04:06 PM
The F117 shouldnt be in this list. Its just a bomber not a fighter.

I disagree with the no 1 spot. The P51 was a nice plane but it had mainly its speed and range. It really wasnt more manuverable than the Fw190. Because if it was so then it would be just as manuverable as some spitfire versions at least and it wasnt.

The Fw190 is a much better aircraft than the Bf109. Much more manuverable, faster greater range. Just look at the top 10 german aces. Most of them flew the Fw190 instead of the Bf109.

I think the best fighter ever is the spitfire with the Fw190 following. number 3 would be sopwith camel. The Triplane of the germans in WW1 was only highly manuverable and could climb fast. That is why it was mostly retired by november 1918. The number 4 would be Me262 because it was a real breaktrough at the time. The development of aircraft went so fast that after that it was quite quikly obselete. 5 Would be the P51 fast fighter was well made and long ranged 6 would be the Harrier for innovativeness. 7 would be the F4 panthom was the first modern fighter. Really multiroll capable airplane.8 The F15 mainly thanks to its record of how it fought. The Su27 might be better now but back then it was a real good plane. 9 Would be F18 because it was the first computerized airplane. 10. The I16. It was the first fighter of the likes which was seen in WW2. It was really advanced aircraft when introduced. At the start of WW2 it was outclassed but it was better than some planes designed several years after when the I16 entered service.

posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 04:26 PM
Fritz, the North American P-51 Mustang is a truly great aircraft, certainly one of the most beautiful aircraft ever built, and as an American and as a Boeing employee (North American is a part of Boeing), I should be proud to claim the P-51 as the greatest fighter aircraft.

But the P-51 did not stop the invasion that would have won the war for the Axis.

The P-51 did not star in the greatest air battle of all.

The P-51 was not flown by those for whom it was Their Finest Hour.

The P-51 did not save the world.

Only one aircraft did, sir, and it is yours.

The greatest fighter aircraft ever built cannot not measured by rate of climb, armor, armament, speed, all weather capabilities, turning radius or range.

It can only be measured by what it did, which was to save civilization in the dark days of 1940.

Gentlemen, the Supermarine Spitfire -- and God Save the Queen!

posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 05:10 PM
Despite being big, slow in turns, and smoky as hell....I gotta nominate the beautiful F4 Thunderbird.

Looks, power, carry capacity, and just a marvel of the existing technology.

Heck, they look as if they are doing mach2, just parked on the tarmac!


posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 05:16 PM
hmm......fighter aircraft...hmmmmm........F-4 phantom? hmm..not sure, mind you, as in combat over vietnam it didnt fare that well in combat, at times suffering near same loss rates.....

posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 05:33 PM
I hope the follow on to this thread will be something on the lines of 'Greatest Spear- Ever'. Or perhaps 'Greatest Slingshot- Ever'

posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 06:42 PM

Originally posted by M6D
hmm......fighter aircraft...hmmmmm........F-4 phantom? hmm..not sure, mind you, as in combat over vietnam it didnt fare that well in combat, at times suffering near same loss rates.....

Initially yes, until we figured out the performance of the MiG-15/17/19. Then the kill rate went heavily back in our favor. We couldn't out-turn them, but we could out-power them. Not to mention the weapon systems developed just for the F4. It did lack a gun, but tactics made up for that (and a gun pod could be easily attached).

Still, awesome bird.

posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 07:23 PM
The F-4U Corsair should be on there. As well as the F-15. The Mustang was a great bird, but I don't think it deserves number 1. 2 I can see, but I dunno about 1. Interesting list though.

posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 08:41 PM
The greatest aircraft ever...hmmm....

The P-51 was definitly a great aircraft, the Spitfire was as well...

Personally I like the F/A-18E Super Hornet, very versitile...Best looks will probably go to the MiG-29, IMO one of the most beautiful aircraft ever.

posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 10:07 PM
Actually MiG 17-21 losses to US were only 199 to 445 F-4's

posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 10:12 PM
Doesn't work that way. The kill ratio is determined by how many are lost in AIR TO AIR COMBAT. You can't lump in EVERY F-4 shot down by ground fire, MiGs, and other causes and say the MiGs did better because they lost less than 200 of them. You have to figure out how many F-4s were shot down BY MIGS, and how many MiGs were shot down by F-4s. Your 445 F-4s were accident/shootdowns/other causes.

posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 10:17 PM
read very cAREFULLY AGAIN, AT THE BOTTOM WHAT IT'S SAYING IS A TOTAL ( ADD THEM) OF 197 VIETNAMIES MiG 17-21's and 3 Chinece MiG-17's WERE SHOT DOWN DO TO "AIRCRAFT ONLY" WHAT THAT MEANS IS air to air dogfight BTW F-15 C was lost in Gulf War 1 (this a fallow up to your post on the other thread)

[edit on 11-7-2005 by SiberianTiger]

posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 10:22 PM
You can't have it both ways there Siberian. In one thread you claim 445 F-4s shot down by SAMs, and here you claim 445 F-4s shot down by MiGs. Which is it? I KNOW how many MiGs were claimed, I READ that. but how many of those F-4S were shot down by the MIGS. You can't say that all of those MiGs shot down 445 F-4s, if you're also claiming that they were shot down by SAMs. We know how many MiGs were shot down, but we can't figure out the Kill Ratio until we know how many F-4S they shot down, which we don't. So it's either 445 F-4s to SAMs or 445 F-4s to MiGs. which is it? Or is it somewhere in between.

posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 10:28 PM
If you go back and read in "Chronilogical" order what I was saying is 445 F-4's were lost in the Vietnam War by 1. AAA 2. SAM's 3. MiGs and by Malfunctions.

posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 10:33 PM
That's right. But you can't say that the MiGs have a better kill ratio than the F-4s because they only had 197 shot down to 445 F-4s. You have to know how many of those F-4s were actually shot down by the MiGs, then how many of THOSE were shot down by what TYPE of MiG, then how many of each type of MiG was shot down by the F-4, THEN you can figure out the kill ratio. SAM, accident, etc don't matter in the kill ratio, ONLY direct air to air combat is considered in the kill ratio. Therefore, we know we have 197 MiGs shot down in air to air combat. How many were downed by F-4s, how many by other types of planes. Until we know all that information you can't say the MiG has a better kill ratio than the F-4 in Vietnam. They didn't lose as many TOTAL, but the kill ratio can only be determined by looking at direct air to air combat losses and breaking them down step by step.

posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 10:48 PM
Well being a Brit I have to go with the "Spitfire" as the best prop job.

But overall.............has to be the "Phantom". Now I'm no plane spotter but when this shed came into service it smashed all the records set by previous aircraft.

I believe that some of the losses in Nam were due to the wrong tactics being used against the Miigs that the pilots were up against????

This bird was used by everyone and their dog i.e. USAF, USMC, USN, RAF, RN, most of the European "flying" services and some of the folk in the Middle East.

Remember it was developed in the 1950's, so for it's time it was very advanced.

Yep has to be the old smokey Phantom!

posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 10:52 PM
The biggest problem the Phantom had against MiGs was that the missiles sucked, and the USAF versions before the E I think it was didn't even have a gun. Missiles were the wave of the future, so they took the gun off. They had to carry a gun pod on the centerline stores pylon. Missiles had a tendency to either drop off on firing, and just keep dropping, or go straight and not home, etc. When they ran out of missiles, they were up the creek. The MiGs would jump them on the way off target when they were more vulnerable. But you gotta love the ole bent wing smoker.

posted on Jul, 12 2005 @ 12:33 AM
However sadistic this may sound.. we need a war of the best vs. the best(vis-a-vis tech eqiupment and other things too) now to get some real answers for this topic for the current generation

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