Royal Air Force

SEPCAT Jaguar GR.1 Attack Plane

The SEPECAT Jaguar is an Anglo French ground attack aircraft that was the result of one of the first major Anglo French military aircraft programs. The Jaguar program began in the early 1960s as a design for a trainer / light attack plane. As time went on, the design was changed to a supersonic ground attack plane. The Jaguar became a single seat, swept wing, twin engine ground attack plane with very tall landing gear and a maximum speed of Mach 1.6. SEPECAT was formed in 1966 as a joint venture between Bréguet and the British Aircraft Corporation to produce the airframe and both companies made significant contributions to the design. The Jaguar first flew on September 8, 1968. The Armée de l'Air took delivery of it’s first production Jaguar in 1973 and the RAF accepted delivery it’s first Jaguar in 1974. The RAF operated 10 Jaguar squadrons and all were assigned to SACEUR for the tactical strike role and each squadron was equipped with eight WE.177 200 kiloton nuclear bombs. These were the RAF's only single seat strike platforms. The RAF retired it’s Jaguars in 2007. The Armée de l'Air operated 9 Jaguar squadrons in the tactical strike role. The Armée de l'Air retired it’s Jaguars in 2005. The Jaguar was also flown by Nigeria and Ecuador and is still flying with India and Oman. The Jaguar GR.1 is armed with 2 30 mm ADEN cannons and has 5 hard points capable of carrying 10,000 lbs of ordinance. A unique feature of British Jaguars was the provision for overwing pylons. They are used for carrying AAMs like the Matra R550 Magic or the AIM-9 Sidewinder. This model shows a British Jaguar GR.1 flying with 54 Squadron RAF at Coltishall, Norfolk, East Anglia, UK in the early 1980s.

Sepcat Jaguar Attack Plane

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English Electric Lightning Interceptor

The English Electric Lightning was a supersonic British fighter aircraft armed with two 30 mm ADEN cannons and two air-to-air missiles. The Lightning first flew on August 4, 1954 and went into service in 1960. The Lightning was specifically designed as a point defense interceptor. To reduce drag, the engines were stacked vertically in the fuselage. Fuel limitations were the primary flaw of the Lightning and to help overcome this drop tanks were designed to be carried on top of the wings. The Lightning's speed and climb performance were excellent even when compared to current fighters. Its initial rate of climb was 50,000 ft per minute and the ceiling was at least 88,000 ft. On at least on occasion the Lightning intercepted a U-2 flying at this height. In trials using a British Airways Concorde the Lightning was the only aircraft able to overtake the Concorde on a stern intercept. The Lightning was withdrawn from service in 1988. Several are still flying in the hands of private collectors. This model shows a Lightning flown by No. 74 (F) Squadron, RAF, Leuchars, Scotland in September 1965.

English Electric Lightning Interceptor

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Slingsby Venture T.Mk.2 Glider

The Slingsby Venture T.Mk.2 is a license built version of the German Scheibe SF 25 B Motor Falke motor glider. The two seat Venture was first flown in 1971 and was adopted by the RAF in 1977 as a trainer for air cadets in the Volunteer Gliding Schools. The Venture is powered by a converted 45 hp Volkswagen engine. Ventures were usually operated as a powered aircraft with the engine being switched off downwind and the rest of the circuit flown as a conventional glider. Since their replacement in RAF service many Ventures have been bought by private pilots and continue to fly to this day. This model shows a Venture based at Syerston Airfield, Nottinghamshire.

Slingsby Venture T.Mk.I Motor Glider Trainer

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de Havilland Vampire FB.5 Fighter Bomber

First flying in September 1943, the prototype of the de Havilland Vampire was the second British jet fighter. Entering service in June 1946 with RAF squadron 247, the Vampire was continually updated. The F.Mk.3 was developed into the FB.5 fighter bomber version by June 1948. The Vampire FB.5 attracted worldwide interest and many were sold to or built by other nations. The FB.5 was also developed into the naval Sea Vampire F.Mk 20. Many other versions were developed throughout the Vampire’s production run ending in 1953. At its peak, 19 RAF squadrons flew the FB 5. Eventually the RAF relegated the Vampire to advanced training roles in the mid 1950s and the Vampire was generally out of RAF service by the end of the 1950s with the trainer version serving until 1966. The Vampire was used by Austria, Australia, Burma, Ceylon, Canada, Chile, Congo, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ireland, Finland, France, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Katanga, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Rhodesia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria and Venezuela. The Vampire was armed with four 20 mm Hispano Mk.V cannons and could carry 8 3 inch 60 lb rockets or 2 500 lb bombs or two drop-tanks. The last Vampires were retired by Switzerland in 1990 and several still flying today at air shows. About 4,580 Vampires were delivered. This model shows a Vampire FB.5 of RAF 112 squadron, 2nd TAF, Germany.

DeHavilland Vampire FB.5 Fighter Bomber

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Panavia Tornado F.3 Interceptor

The Panavia Tornado family of 2 engine, multi role, variable wing geometry aircraft was developed by the United Kingdom, West Germany and Italy. First flying on August 14, 1974, the Tornado entered service in 1979 with the RAF and the Luftwaffe and with the Aeronautica Militare Italiana in 1981. Although designed as a high speed low level STOL strike aircraft, the Tornado has been successfully used as a maritime strike aircraft, reconnaissance plane, ECM platform, SEAD striker and interceptor replacing a wide variety of aircraft. As a multinational NATO aircraft the Tornado can carry almost any air launched NATO weapons including unguided and guided bombs, anti ship missiles, anti radiation missiles, anti personnel mines, anti runway bombs, AAMs, electronic countermeasure pods, fuel tanks and a buddy store aerial refueling tanks. British Tornadoes could also carry the WE.177 A/B/C nuclear weapon with a yield of 10 kilotons to 450 kilotons. Continuously upgraded, the Tornado is expected to continue flying until at least 2025. It is flown by Great Britain, Germany, Italy and Saudi Arabia. The Tornado F.3 is a long range interceptor developed from the basic ground attack Tornado. Originating in a RAF requirement for a long range interceptor to replace the Lightning and Phantom FGR2, the F.3 was designed to intercept long range Soviet bombers especially the Tupolev Tu-22M. The F.3 first flew October 27, 1979, entered service in 1986 and was retired on March 22, 2011 by the RAF. It still flies with the Saudi air force. The interceptor version of the Tornado featured a lengthened fuselage, greater acceleration, fuel capacity, air intercept radar and the ability to use radar guided AAMs. The Panavia Tornado F.3 was armed with one 27 mm Mauser BK-27 revolver cannon and could carry four AIM-9 Sidewinders or AIM-132 ASRAAMs and four Skyflash AAMs or AIM-120 AMRAAMs along with two drop tanks. This model shows a Tornado F.3 of 43 Squadron RAF Leuchars at Dhahran Royal Saudi Air Force Base during Operation Granby in 1991.

Panavia Tornado F.3 Fighter

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Hawker Tempest VI Fighter Bomber

The Hawker Tempest, a derivative of the Hawker Typhoon, first flew on September 2, 1942. The prototype was very similar to the Typhoon with the same car door style canopy and radiator. It was rapidly modified with a bubble canopy, larger vertical tail and stabilizers. The Tempest also featured an improved wing design with a flush riveted surface. The Tempest was a great improvement over the Typhoon in performance but engine problems resulted in a change to the Saber II engine and the Tempest V went into production on June 21, 1943. Various engineering refinements that had gone into prior Tempest versions were incorporated into the Tempest VI which was powered by the Saber V engine. This required moving the carburetor intake and the oil cooler to be moved to the leading inner edge of both wings. Going into action in April 1944 the Tempest was, at first, primarily used for high altitude fighter sweeps and long range ground attack sorties inside enemy territory. However when the first V-1 flying bombs were launched against London the Tempest's excellent low altitude performance made it the first choice for shooting them down. An entire wing of aircraft was returned to England to deal with the V-1 where they shot down about 35% of all the V-1s destroyed. Some of the Tempest units based in England were also used to support Operation Market Garden in September 1944. After the V-1 threat receded, the Tempests squadrons were rebased primarily into Holland. There the primary mission of the Tempest became armed reconnaissance. The typical Tempest armed reconnaissance mission would be flown by 8 aircraft crossing enemy lines at about 8,000 feet. Once over enemy territory they would descend and begin to search for any enemy targets to attack. In December 1944 the Tempest shot down 52 fighters and destroyed 89 trains for the loss of 20 Tempests. By the end of the war, Tempests had also managed to shoot down several ME-262s, primarily while they were landing. The Tempest VI continued to serve with the RAF after and was Britain's last piston engine fighter in service. 142 Hawker Tempest IVs were built. It was armed with four 20 mm Mark II Hispano cannons and could carry 2 drop tanks or two 500 lb. bombs or two 1,000 lb. bombs. This model shows a Hawker Tempest VI flying with No. 6 squadron out of Nicosia in November 1945.

Hawker Tempest VI Fighter Bomber

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Gloster Meteor NF.14 Nightfighter

The Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter and the only Allied jet fighter that saw active service during WWII. First flying on March 5th 1943 and powered by two Halford turbojet jet engines, the Meteor entered operational service in July 1944. Initially the Meteor was employed to shoot down German V-1 flying bombs. The RAF was forbidden from flying the Meteor over German held territory due to fears of wreckage falling into German hands. The Meteor III entered service on December 18, 1944. The Mk.III was a substantial improvement over the Meteor I with redesigned nacelles and a new engine. In January 1945 the Meteors were moved to Belgium where they flew armed reconnaissance and ground attack missions without encountering any German jet fighters. By the end of WWII Meteors had destroyed 46 German aircraft on the ground. The Meteor continued to be upgraded throughout the late 1940s and 1950s fighting in the Korean War and serving with Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Syria and Sweden. The night fighter versions of the Meteor were designed to replace the increasingly obsolete de Havilland Mosquito as a night fighter. The first night fighter version was the NF Mk.11. It was based on the T.7 trainer but used the F.8 fuselage and F.3 wings. It featured an extended nose containing Westinghouse SCR-720 air intercept radar. The 20mm cannons were moved into the wings outboard of the engines. A ventral fuel tank was fitted and wing mounted drop tanks were usually carried. The NF.12 quickly followed with a longer nose to accommodate the latest radars. The NF.14 first flew on October 23, 1953. It was based on the NF.12 but had an even longer nose to accommodate new radar equipment. This increased the total length to 51 ft 4 in. It also featured a new larger bubble canopy, more powerful engines, an auto stabilizer and ejection seats. The NF.14 began to be replaced by the Gloster Javelin beginning in 1956 although the NF.14 remained in front line service until 1961. Several were also used as trainers until 1965. The Meteor NF.14 was armed with four 20mm British Hispano cannons. 100 NF.14s were made. This model shows a Meteor NF.14 of No. 85 Squadron RAF in 1958.

Gloster Meteor NF.14 Nightfighter

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Folland Gnat T.I Trainer

The Folland Gnat was originally designed to meet a RAF requirement for a lightweight fighter and first flew on July 18, 1955. Although the Gnat did not win the fly off competition it did get orders from Finland, Yugoslavia and India (who later began producing a version under license). In 1957 the Gnat was modified to meet a RAF requirement for an advanced two seat trainer with a secondary armed role. The wing was changed, the engine was uprated and the fuselage was lengthened. The Gnat T.1 trainer first flew on August 31, 1959 and the last Gnat T.1 for the RAF was delivered in May 1965. Most Gnats were flown by 4 Flying Training School at RAF Valley. In 1964 Gnats equipped the Yellowjacks aerobatic team which later became the Red Arrows which operated the Gnat until 1979. Following the introduction of the Hawker Siddeley Hawk into the training role as a replacement, Gnats began to be withdrawn from service. After their withdrawal many were sold to private owners. In the light attack role the Gnat could carry two 30 mm ADEN cannons and two 500 lb. bombs or eighteen 3 in. rockets. This model shows a Folland Gnat T.1 flying with 4 Flying Training School at RAF Valley in the late 1960s.

Folland Gnat T.I

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