posted on Jan, 10 2008 @ 08:33 AM
There isn't really one single form of stealth technology. Like all such concepts, the idea is a slightly organic one that has developed in response
to the military needs of the time.
Radar detection reduction systems date back to the 1930s - in fact back to when radar was first employed as a tracking device. For obvious reasons the
second world war sparked a vigorous race to avoid radar tracking as far as possible, but the limitations of propeller aircraft in terms of shape,
materials employed in their construction and so on and so forth made stealth hard to come by.
However, stealthy planes did not start with the F-117! For example, a 1960s British aircraft, the Vulcan bomber, though enormous, had a very low radar
signal - though actually this was more by accident than design.
Initially stealth depended largely on shape, but better radar weeded that out and other technologies are now employed. Not only that but producing
stealthy shapes has historically compromised handling and stability (the F-117 being a good example). There are now many many different concepts
involved in producing stealth vehicles - acoustics, using non-metallic materials in construction (ferrites and carbon fibres, for example), using RAM
coatings - not all of which are on their own particularly advanced, but put together and all working as one have a remarkably good effect.
Not sure about the Black Panther aircraft - my knowledge is that WWII aircraft found countermeasures like chaff more effective than trying to make the
aircraft stealthy. Also consider the theatre involved - something like the battle of Britain, which involved dogfighting as the principle means of
achieving air superiority would not have had much practical use for stealth fighting, whereas a bombing run on an Iraqi target in the Gulf War is
obviously a very different kettle of fish.
Certainly Lockheed made the most obvious developments with the F-117 aircraft, but much of the technology they use is fine-tuned from much older ideas
with different uses.
Be warned, inevitably some on these boards will tell you Stealth technology came from back-engineered alien craft that crashed at Roswell, New Mexico.
They will not offer any evidence for this claim, on the basis that there isn't any. We were quite smart enough on our own for this one!
My field of expertise does not extend to marine craft - but your points about u-boats may well be correct - their missions probably had more in common
with modern day bomber aircraft than WWII fighter planes.