AH-1 W Super Cobra Attack Helicopter

The AH-1 Super Cobra is a twin engine attack helicopter based on the US Army's AH-1 Cobra. The AH-1 Cobra was developed in the mid 1960s as an interim gunship for US Army use in Vietnam and it used the same transmission, rotor system and engine of the UH-1 Huey. The USMC was very interested in the Cobra, but preferred a twin engine version with different armament. In May 1968 the Marines received the AH-1 J Sea Cobra. In the late 1970s the Marines requested an upgraded version of the Sea Cobra and the result was the AH-1 T with improved fire control, electronics and weapon systems. In the early 1980s, the Marines were again not allowed to buy the AH-66 Apache, so they turned to a more powerful version of the AH-1 T. The result was the AH-I W Super Cobra. The Marines bought 179 new build helicopters plus 43 upgrades of AH-1 T. The AH-1 W featured new electronics, upgraded engines and the ability to fire Sidewinder and Hellfire missiles. The Super Cobra is the backbone of the USMC attack helicopter fleet and has been continually upgraded since it’s introduction. During Operation Desert Storm the AH-1 W comprised less than 20% of the attack helicopter force deployed but flew more than 50% of the missions. Its 92% mission readiness rate was better than all other attack helicopters. Super Cobras destroyed 97 tanks, 104 armored personnel carriers and vehicles, 16 bunkers and two antiaircraft artillery sites. The AH-1 W Super Cobra is armed with a 20 mm M197 3 barrel Gatling cannon and can carry a combination of 2.75 in. Hydra 70 rockets, 5 in. Zuni rockets, TOW missiles, AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and AIM-9 Sidewinder AAMs. The model shows the first Super Cobra (#162532) flying with VX-5 at China Lake during the initial tests for the Super Cobra.

AH-1 W Cobra Attack Helicopter

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AV-8 B Harrier II VTOL Attack Plane

The McDonnell Douglas AV-8 B Harrier II is a second generation vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) ground attack aircraft developed by the UK and the US as a follow on to the original Hawker Siddeley Harrier and Sea Harrier. Although there have been a very few VTOL planes to enter service, the Harrier is the only one that can be considered a success. Even though the AV-8 B Harrier II shares same designation as the earlier AV-8 A/C Harrier, the AV-8 B was extensively redesigned from the previous generation of Harriers. The new Harrier II incorporated a Navigation Forward Looking Infrared camera, upgraded cockpit, new more powerful Rolls Royce Pegasus II engine, new radar and the ability to use the AIM-120 AMRAAM. The AV-8 B can operate from small aircraft carriers, large amphibious assault ships and forward operating bases. The AV-8 B and related variants is flown the USMC, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, Spain and Italy. The Harrier II is armed with an under fuselage pod mounted General Dynamics GAU-12 Equalizer 25 mm 5 barreled Gatling cannon and carries 6 hard points capable of carrying 13,200 lbs of ordinance. The model shows an AV-8 B Harrier II flying with VMA-311 "Tomcats" at MCAS Yuma, AZ in the mid 1980s.

McDonnell Douglas AV-8 B Harrier VTOL Attack Plane

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F4U Corsair Carrier Fighter Bomber

The Vought F4U Corsair was one of the greatest combat aircraft of WWII. Designed in 1938, the Corsair made its first flight in May 1940. The prototype was the first single engine US warplane to exceed 400 mph and outperformed all other American aircraft at that time. The XF4U-1 prototype had the biggest and most powerful engine, largest propeller and largest wing on any fighter up to that time. The Corsair's aerodynamics was an advance over those of contemporary naval fighters. Production began in 1942 and lasted until 1952, the longest production run of any American aircraft. Some 12,571 Corsairs came off the production line and the Corsair served with the US Navy and Marines throughout WWII and the Korean War into the late 1950s. Action with land based Marine squadrons began in the Solomon Islands in 1943 and from then on the Corsair swiftly gained air supremacy over the Japanese with an 11:1 kill ratio. By the end of the war Corsairs were ashore on Okinawa and also were flying from fleet and escort carriers performing strikes with bombs, napalm, rockets and Bat glide bombs along with fighter missions. The Corsair flew 64,051 sorties during the war and shot down 2,140 enemy aircraft. The F4U Corsair was armed with 6 .50 cal. M2 Browning machineguns and could carry 8 5 inch rockets and 4,000 lbs of bombs. Several smaller air forces used the Corsair until the late 1960s with the last combat missions being flown in 1969 during the Football War between Honduras and El Salvador when both sides flew Corsairs. Corsairs flew with the US Navy, US Marines, Fleet Air Arm, Royal New Zealand Air Force, French Navy, Argentine Air Force, El Salvadorian Air Force and the Honduran Air Force This model a F4U Corsair flying with VMF-214 in 1950 during the Korean War. Also see the WWII Navy version of the Corsair and the prototype.

Vought F4U-1 Corsair Fighter Bomber

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F7F-3 Tigercat Carrier Fighter Bomber

The Grumman F7F Tigercat was a twin engine carrier fighter designed with a very slim fuselage and two radial engines. The Tigercat was designed to operate from the new Midway class aircraft carriers and was too large to fly from earlier carriers. Even though the F7F was designed for carrier operations, it was mainly used by the USMC as the plane had a very difficult time passing carrier trials; only the later F7F-4N was certified for carrier service. The Tigercat was too late for service in WWII but did fight in the Korean War as attack aircraft or night fighters. During the war they shot down 2 Polikarpov Po-2s. The F7F was withdrawn from service in 1954. The Tigercat proved to be popular as a water bomber to fight forest fires in the 1960s and 1970s and at least one continued in this role lasted until the late 1980s. There are several Tigercats still flying as racers and warbirds. The F7F Tigercat was armed with four 20 mm M2 cannons, four .50 cal. M2 Browning machineguns and could carry two  1,000 lb. bombs or 1 torpedo and 8 5” air to ground rockets.

Grumman F7F-3 Tigercat Carrier Fighter Bomber

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F-8 A Crusader Carrier Fighter

The Vought F-8 Crusader was a carrier based air superiority fighter which first flew in February 1955. The Crusader became the ultimate carrier day fighter and was the last American fighter with guns as the primary weapon. The Crusader was the best American dogfighter of the Vietnam War, being credited with the best kill ratio of any American type in the Vietnam War, 19:3. Reconnaissance versions of the F-8 (RF-8) flew extremely hazardous low level photo reconnaissance missions over Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Vought built 1,219 Crusaders and the last Crusader fighter retired in 1976. The RF-8 continued to fly until March 29, 1987 when the last operational Crusader was turned over to the National Air and Space Museum. Several modified F-8s were used by NASA in the early 1970s, proving the viability of both digital fly-by-wire and supercritical wings. The F-8 A Crusader was armed with 4 20 mm Colt Mk. 12 cannons and 2 fuselage Y hard points for AIM-9 Sidewinders and 2 under wing hard points capable of carrying 4,000 lbs of ordinance. The F-8 Crusader was operated by the US Navy, US Marines, France & The Philippines. This model shows a F-8 A Crusader from VMF-321 in the early 1970s.

LTV F-8 Crusader Carrier Fighter

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OV-10 A Bronco Reconnaissance Plane

The North American Rockwell OV-10 A Bronco is a twin turboprop short takeoff and landing aircraft conceived by the Marine Corps and developed under an Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps tri-service program. It was developed in the mid 1960s as a special counter insurgency (COIN) aircraft. The Bronco first flew in August 1967 with production ending in April 1969 with 157 aircraft completed. The Bronco is  capable of performing observation, forward air control, helicopter escort, armed reconnaissance, cargo, gunfire spotting, utility, aerial radiological reconnaissance, tactical air observation, airborne control of tactical air support operations, low-level aerial photography and ground attack missions. One of the unique features of the OV-10 is  a rear fuselage compartment with a capacity of 3,200 pounds of cargo, five combat equipped troops or two litter patients and a medical attendant. In addition to it’s STOL capabilities the OV-10 has flown from aircraft carriers and large deck amphibious assault ships without using catapults or arresting wires. The main armament of the Bronco is  carried on a fuselage mounted sponson or stub wing that also improved flight performance. 4 .30 cal. M60C machineguns are carried in sponsons and 4 hard points are mounted on the bottom. The hard points are capable of carrying up to a 500 lb bomb and various rocket and gun pods. The OV-10 flew with the USMC until 1995 following its employment during Operation Desert Storm. A highly modified version (OV-10 D) was also produced for the Marine Corps. The OV-10 Bronco flew with the USAF, USN, USMC, Colombia, Germany, Indonesia, Morocco, Philippines, Thailand and Venezuela as well as NASA, the US Department of State and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in modified forms. This model shows an OV-10 A from VMO-2 at Camp Pendleton, California in 1971.

North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco Reconnaissance Plane

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OA-4 M Skyhawk Reconnaissance Plane

Initially dubbed 'Heinemann's Hot Rod' after chief design engineer Ed Heinemann, the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk is a carrier capable ground attack aircraft designed for the US Navy and Marine Corps. Designed as a replacement for the A-1 Skyraider, the A-4 first flew on June 22, 1954 and deliveries began in late 1956. The Skyhawk was continually improved and remained in production for 25 years until 1979, with a total of 2,960 aircraft built. The A-4 continues to fly with several countries around the world today. The last Skyhawk, a TA-4J, was officially retired on May 3, 2003. The A-4s small size allowed it to be operated from the older WWII era Essex class carriers still common in the USN through the 1960s as well as other smaller carriers around the world. By the time of the Vietnam War, all carrier wings had at least two Skyhawk squadrons. The A-4s were soon performing most of the Navy and Marine Corps light air attack missions over Vietnam. The A-4 Skyhawk carried out some of the first air strikes by the US during the war and is believed to have dropped the last American bombs at the end. 362 Skyhawks of all types were lost during the war. The OA-4 M Skyhawk was a modified TA-4 F for the Fast Forward Air Control role for the USMC. Only 23 were built and they served for only 10 years. The modifications included updated electronics, and communications systems, a midair refueling probe and cockpit side armor. The OA-4 M Skyhawk retained the 2 20 mm Colt Mk. 12 cannon armament of the original and typically carried 3 drop tanks and 2 smoke rocket pods. This model shows a plane flown by H&MS-12 squadron, The Outlaws. Also see the A-4 A. and the A-4 N

McDonnell Douglas OA-4 M Skyhawk Reconnaissance Plane

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F-6 A (F4D-1) Skyray Carrier Fighter

The Douglas F4D-1 (F-6 A) Skyray was a delta winged single seat carrier based interceptor that was derived from German design concepts developed late in WWII. After WWII Douglas engineers gained access to aerodynamic data captured from the Germans as well as an interview with Dr. Alexander Lippisch, an expert on the delta wing design and designer of the ME-163 rocket powered interceptor. Design of the Skyray began in 1947 and the first prototype flew on January 21, 1951. The F4D entered service with the Navy and Marines in April 1956 and served until 1964 with a few still flying with NASA until 1969. The F4D not only served with the US Navy and Marines, it also served under USAF command. Navy squadron VFAW-3 flying from North Island in San Diego was assigned to NORAD under Air Force control. They scrambled to intercept intruders entering the southwestern corner of the US. The Skyray also flew extensive CAP missions in support of Taiwan against the PRC and flew patrols during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Even though it was considered a difficult airplane to fly by some of its pilots, the Skyray was a very high performance interceptor. Designed exclusively as a high altitude interceptor, the F4D had an outstanding rate and angle of climb and set a new time to altitude record flying from a standing start to 49,221 ft in 2 minutes and 36 seconds while flying at a 70° angle. The Skyray was also used in a little known Navy project called PILOT. The F4D was used to launch a booster rocket in an attempt to orbit a hockey puck sized microsatellite. None of the 1958 launches were successful. The follow-on project CALEB, did manage one successful launch in 1960. The F4D-1 Skyray was armed with four Colt M12 20 mm cannons and could carry 4,000 lbs. on 7 hard points. Stores usually included 2.75 inch rocket pods and AIM-9 Sidewinder AAMs. It also almost always carried two 300 gallon fuel tanks. The centerline station usually was fitted with a navigation pack (NAVPAC) pod with radio beacon tracking and distance measuring gear for flights to USAF or civilian bases. This model shows a Douglas F4D-1 Skyray flying with VFM(AW)-115 from the carrier USS Independence during April 19, 1962 to August 27, 1962.

Douglas F4D-1 Skyray Carrier Fighter

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