JB-2 Loon Flying Bomb

The Loon was the US Navy version of the JB-2. It was a reverse-engineered copy of the German V-1 flying bomb developed by the Army Air Forces in 1944. The Navy intended to launch the Loon from escort carriers with radar guidance. In 1946 the Navy began testing the Loon as a submarine fired weapon. Testing continued through the late 1940s and early 1950s. The data gathered from these tests led to the development of the Regulus I, Regulus II and Snark cruise missiles. The Loon carried a 2,100 pound warhead and had a range of about 150 miles. Also see the FI-103 for the WWII piloted version of the V-1 and the V-1 for the original version.

JB-2 Loon Flying Bomb / Cruise Missile

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A-4 A (A4D-1) Skyhawk Carrier Attack 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 A-4 A (A4D-1) was the first operational model of the Skyhawk and had 3 hard points capable of carrying 5,000 lbs of ordinance and was armed with 2 20 mm Colt Mk. 12 cannons. The A-4 Skyhawk has flown with the USN, USMC, Blue Angels acrobatic team, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore. This model shows an A-4 A (A4D-1) Skyhawk of VA-34, CVG-3 flying from the USS Saratoga CV-60 in the late 1950s. Also see the OA-4 M and the A-4 N.

Douglas A-4 A Skyhawk Attack Plane

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F8F Bearcat Carrier Fighter Bomber

The Grumman F8F Bearcat was designed to be a carrier based interceptor. First flying on August 21, 1944 the first Bearcat squadron became operational in May 1945. While the Bearcat arrived too late to see service in WWII, the F8F became a major Navy fighter, equipping 24 fighter squadrons. The Blue Angels were also equipped with the Bearcat. The French and Thai air forces also flew the Bearcat and it saw combat with the French in Indochina in the 1950s where they were used to support French Forces at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Upon the creation of the Vietnam Air Force in 1955 about 70 Bearcats were transferred to it. The F8F was armed with 4 20 mm M3 cannons and could carry 4 5 in. unguided rockets and 2 500 lb bombs. An unmodified F8F-1 Bearcat set a 1946 time to climb record of 10,000 ft in 94 seconds. The Bearcat held this record for 10 years until it was broken by a jet fighter, which could still not match the Bearcat's short takeoff distance. The Bearcat has been very popular as an air racer and the first Reno Air Race in 1964 was won by a Bearcat. Another famous racer was Conquest I which holds the propeller driven aircraft world speed record and is now at the Smithsonian's NASM. Also see the Smirnoff Bearcat Racer and the Bearcat group.

Grumman F8F Bearcat Fighter Bomber

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F-4 B Phantom II Carrier Fighter Bomber

The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is one of the most successful postwar fighters ever built and was the second most produced American jet fighter to be built, outnumbered only by the North American F-86 Saber. Total US production was 5,057, with another 138 being built under license in Japan. The Phantom was in continuous production for 22 years from 1959 until 1981 and remains in service today with several countries around the world. The Phantom is a two seat, twin engine, all weather, long range supersonic jet interceptor / fighter bomber that was originally developed for the USN by McDonnell Aircraft. First flying in 1960 for the Navy, it was soon adopted by the USMC and USAF. The F-4 like other interceptors of its time was designed with an all missile armament, but later models incorporated a cannon. The Phantom was extensively by all 3 services during the Vietnam War as a fighter, attack and reconnaissance plane.  Replacing the F-105 Thunderchief as the primary ground attack plane in the Vietnam War, the F-4 flew thousands of attack mission and 761 were lost during the war, the majority to ground fire. Phantoms claimed 227 enemy aircraft destroyed. The F-4 B was the initial production model for the USN. It was given the AN/APQ-72 air intercept radar and used the AAA-4 infrared sensor beneath the nose radome. The Phantom could carry 18,650 lbs of ordinance on 9 hard points and 4 AIM-7 Sparrows in fuselage recesses. 228 F-4 Bs were upgraded in 1972 and were redesignated F-4 N. The F-4 B Phantom II served with the USMC, USN and The Blue Angels acrobatic team. This model shows a CAG F-4 B Phantom II from VF-51 flying from the USS Coral Sea in 1971. Also see the F-4 E Phantom II.

McDonnell Douglas F-4 B Phantom II Carrier Fighter Bomber

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F-11 A (F11F) Tiger Carrier Fighter

The Grumman F-11 (F11F) Tiger was a single seat carrier based fighter aircraft operated by the USN in the 1950s and 1960s. The Tiger first flew on July 30, 1954. In it's maiden flight, despite not having it’s proper engine installed, the Tiger nearly reached Mach 1. The F-11 became the second Navy supersonic airplane. Carrier trials started on April 4, 1956 when an F11F-1 Tiger landed on and launched from the carrier USS Forrestal. The Tiger is noted for being the first jet aircraft to shoot itself down. On September 21, 1956, during a test firing of its 20 mm cannons, the pilot fired two bursts while in a shallow dive. As the velocity and trajectory of the cannon rounds decayed, they ultimately crossed paths with the Tiger as it continued its descent, disabling it and forcing a crash landing. In service, the Tiger operated from the carriers USS Ranger, USS Intrepid, USS Hancock, USS Bon Homme Richard, USS Forrestal, and USS Saratoga. The F-11 only operated for four years and was transferred to training schools in 1961. The Blue Angels acrobatic team used the Tiger from 1957 until 1969. The F-11 Tiger was armed with 4 20 mm Colt Mk. 12 cannons and carried 4 hard points which could carry Aero 6A or Aero 7A rocket pods, AIM-9 Sidewinders or 150 gal. drop tanks. This model shows a F-11 Tiger from VF-121 at NAS Point Mugu California, in 1958.

Grumman F-11 F Tiger Carrier Fighter

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AF-1 E (FJ-4B) Fury Carrier Attack Plane

Originally designed and flown as the FJ-1 straight winged carrier fighter the FJ-4 Fury was a complete redesign of the original plane. The redesigned FJ Fury was derived from the F-86 Saber fighter. Many historians consider the FJ Fury series to be a developmental offshoot of the F-86 Saber and it is often considered to be the ultimate development of the F-86. The swept wing Fury first flew in 1951 as the FJ-2. The FJ-2 was modified into the FJ-3 with better engines, air to air missile launching rails, a new wing and in flight refueling capability. In 1954 the final development of the Fury was the FJ-4 which added more internal fuel capacity, modified tail and wing, twice the under wing ordinance weight, nuclear weapon capability and the ability to carry the AGM-12 Bullpup missile. The FJ-4B was redesignated as the AF-1 E in 1962. A total of 1,115 Furies were produced. The Fury was armed with four 20 mm cannons, six under wing hard points carrying a total of up to 6,000 pounds of fuel tanks, rockets, bombs or up to four under wing drop tanks. This model shows a FJ-4B Fury of VA-116 in the late 1950s. Also see the F-86 F Saber, the F-86 D Saber and the F-100 D Super Saber  and the Sabers group page.

FJ-4B (AF-1 E) Fury Carrier Attack Plane

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DT-28 D Trojan Drone Controller

The T-28 Trojan was designed as a replacement for the T-6 Texan trainer by North American. First flying in 1949, the Air Force placed an order for 266 planes in 1950. Joined by orders from the Navy and Marine Corps total production was 1,948 planes. The Trojan was used as a trainer, light attack plane, reconnaissance plane, patrol plane and drone controller. The T-28 was used by the USAF, USN, USMC, South Vietnam, France, The Congo, Argentina, Thailand, The Philippines, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Japan, Laos, Mexico and South Korea. This model shows a DT-28 D drone controller used by the US Navy in the mid 1960s to control target drones.

DT-28 Trojan Drone Controller

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A-6 A Intruder Carrier Attack Plane

The A-6 Intruder was a twin engine attack aircraft built by Grumman. The Intruder was in service from 1962 to 1997 and the last Intruder flew from the carrier USS Enterprise on December 19, 1997. First flying on April 19, 1960 the A-6 became both the USN's and USMC's principal medium all weather & night attack aircraft due to it’s heavy bomb load and sophisticated electronics systems. A-6 Intruders first saw action during the Vietnam War, where they were used extensively against targets in Vietnam. However, its typical mission profile of flying low to deliver its payload made it especially vulnerable to antiaircraft fire and in the eight years the Intruder was used during the Vietnam War a total of 84 A-6 aircraft were lost. Intruders were also used in combat in Lebanon, Libya, Operation Desert Storm, Somalia and Bosnia. The A-6 was intended to be replaced by the A-12 Avenger II, but that program was canceled. The Intruder remained in service for a few more years before being retired. The last Intruders were retired on 28 February 1997. The USN no longer has an attack plane with the A-6's range and load-carrying ability. The A-6 Intruder could carry a maximum of 18,000 lbs of ordnance on 5 hard points with a top speed of 648 mph and a range of 3,245 miles. This model shows an A-6 A Intruder from VA-115 flying from the carrier USS Midway.

A-6 A Intruder All Weather Carrier Attack Plane

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F9F-4 Panther Carrier Fighter Bomber

The Grumman F9F Panther first flew on 24 November 1947 and entered Navy service in September 1949. The Panther was the USN’s second jet plane and was the most widely used Navy jet fighter during the Korean War, flying 78,000 sorties, mainly ground attack. On July 9, 1950 a F9F claimed the first aerial victory of the Korean War by shooting down a Yak-9. Although outperformed by a wide margin by the MiG-15, F9F Panthers shot down five of the communist fighters and another Yak-9. The Panther was withdrawn from front line service in 1956 and was used in the reserve and as trainers until the 1960s. Some notable pilots of the F9F Panther were Astronauts Neil Armstrong and John Glenn and Boston Red Sox All Star Ted Williams. The F9F was armed with 4 20 mm M2 cannons and could carry 6 5 inch rockets and up to 2,000 lbs of bombs. A total of 1,382 Panthers were built. This model shows a F9F-4 Panther of VF-123 in 1953.

F9F-4 Panther Carrier Fighter Bomber

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AF-2W Guardian Hunter Carrier ASW Plane

The Grumman AF Guardian was  the first purpose built ASW aircraft system to enter service in the Navy and also the largest piston engine plane ever to fly with the USN.  Because of the size of the electronics of the time, there were two  different versions of the Guardian. One was a killer plane armed with  rockets and depth charges. The other was a hunter plane that carried two additional crew members and a ventral radome for APS-20 search radar.  The Guardian had a short career with the USN being retired in 1955. A  few of the planes were converted to fire bombers and today 3 still  survive in museums. This model shows an AF-2W hunter flying in the early 1950s.

AF-2W Guardian ASW Hunter Plane

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F2H-3 Banshee Carrier Fighter Bomber

The F2H Banshee was a carrier based jet used by the US Navy from 1951 to 1959 and by the Royal Canadian Navy from 1955 until 1962. Developed from the FH-1 Phantom, the Banshee first flew on January 11, 1947. The F2H served during the Korean War with the 7th Fleet as a fighter and later as a reconnaissance plane. The F2H-3 version was over 8 feet longer than previous versions allowing an increased fuel load. The horizontal stabilizer was moved from the vertical tail down to the fuselage. The Banshee was also fitted with radar equipment, enabling the fighter to be used for all weather missions, and the cannons were moved downwards and rearwards away from the nose to accommodate the new radar. These changes resulted in an airplane that looked significantly different from its predecessors, and it was nicknamed "Big Banjo" by its crews. Production ended in September 1953 with about 900 aircraft built. The Banshee was armed with 4 20 mm Colt Mk 16 cannons and had 8 weapons pylons under the wings that could carry 3,000 lbs of bombs and rockets.  This model shows a F2H-3 Banshee flown by VF-11 Squadron flying from the carrier USS Coral Sea in March 1956.

McDonnell F2H-3 Banshee Carrier Fighter Bomber

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F-21 A Kfir Fighter

The Israel Aircraft Industries Kfir is an Israeli all weather, fighter bomber based on a redesigned Dassault Mirage 5 with Israeli electronics and a version of the GE J79 turbojet engine. First flown in June 1973 and entering service in 1975, the Kfir was the IAF’s primary air superiority fighter for only about one year until the arrival of the F-15 and F-16. Afterwards the Kfir was assigned to ground attack missions, later being modified specially for the mission. It left Israeli service in the late 1990s. The Kfir is part of the Mirage family which includes the Atlas Cheetah, Mirage IV, Mirage 5, Mirage IIIV, Mirage 2000, Mirage III, IAI Nammer, Atlas Carver and  IAI Nesher. The Kfir C.2 is armed with two Rafael 30 mm DEFA 553 cannons and can carry up to 12,730 lbs. of ordinance. The Kfir has been flown by Colombia, Ecuador, Sri Lanka, Israel and the US. The F-21 A Kfir is an upgraded Kfir C.1 aircraft that were leased to the USN and USMC for aggressor training. These aircraft were modified to include canards on the air intakes which greatly improved maneuverability and slow speed control and were adopted on later variants. This model shows a F-21 A Kfir flown by US Navy Fighter Squadron VF-43 based at NAS Oceana, Virginia. Also see the Mirage III CJthe Mirage III O and the Mirage III C and the Mirage III group.

IAI F-21 Kfir Fighter

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F-14 A Tomcat Carrier Fighter

Designed in the late 1960s the Grumman F-14 Tomcat is a supersonic twin engine two seat variable geometry wing fighter. The Tomcat first flew in December 1970 and entered service in 1974 aboard the USS Enterprise CVN-65 where it replaced the F-4 Phantom II. The F-14 design began as an outgrowth of the USN F-111 variant, the F-111 B. When the F-111 B was canceled the USN and Grumman, who had worked on the F-111 B, began working on what would become the F-14. Incorporating the lessons learned from air combat against MiGs during the Vietnam War, the Tomcat was designed as an air superiority fighter and a long range naval interceptor with good dog fighting performance, an internal gun and short, medium and long range missiles. The variable geometry wings can sweep from 20° and 68° in flight. The sweep can be manually controlled by the pilot or automatically by the Central Air Data Computer. When the plane is on the deck the wings can be overswept to 75° to reduce the storage space needed. Two triangular shaped retractable glove vanes are mounted in the forward part of the wing glove to generate additional lift and are automatically extended by the flight control system at high Mach numbers. They allowed the F-14 to pull 7.5 g at its maximum speed of Mach 2.34. Equipped with the 36 inch Hughes AWG-9 X-band radar, the F-14 can track 24 targets simultaneously and engage six at a time. This radar gives the Tomcat a search range of over 120 miles. The Northrop AAX-1 optical system was also carried which allowed the pilot to visually identify and track aircraft over 60 miles away. The Grumman F-14 A Tomcat can carry 15,000 lbs. of ordinance on various fuselage hard points including the AIM-54 Phoenix, AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, reconnaissance pods, drop tanks and ECM pods. It also carries a 20 mm M61 Vulcan gun. A total of 712 F-14 Tomcats were built and the last one retired from USN service on March 10, 2006. It is believed that Iran still flies a handful of F-14s delivered in the late 1970s. This model shows a F-14 A Tomcat flying with Navy squadron VF-84 the Jolly Rogers off of the carrier USS Nimitz CVN-68 in 1977.

Grumman F-14 Tomcat Carrier Fighter

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T-2 C Buckeye Trainer

First entering service in 1959, the North American T-2 Buckeye was the USN's intermediate training aircraft until 2008. The T-2 A was the original two seat single engine version of the Buckeye. The T-2 B was redesigned for two engines. The C version featured much more powerful engines. The Buckeye was designed as a low cost multiple stage trainer. Its performance envelope is between the T-37 and the TA-4J. The T-2 was designed to use proven technologies wherever possible sharing the wing with the FJ-1 Fury and the cockpit controls of the T-28 C. Just about every naval jet pilot from the late 1950s until 2004 received training in the T-2 Buckeye. The T-2 has been replaced by the T-45 Goshawk and several still fly as drone controllers and a few are now in civilian hands making the rounds at airshows. This model shows a T-2 C Buckeye flying with VT-23 out of NAS Kingsville, TX in 1983.

North American T-2 C Buckeye Trainer

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F-18 C Hornet

First flying on April 12, 1980, the F-18 Hornet began life as a variant of the YF-17 in the mid 1970s. The US Navy was looking for a replacement for its A-4 Skyhawk, A-7 Corsair II and F-4 Phantom II. The new aircraft also needed to complement the F-14 Tomcat in the light fighter role. Congress ordered the Navy to review the contestants in the Air Force Lightweight Fighter competition and the Navy selected the YF-17 for further developments. Work began on redesigning the YF-17 into a carrier capable light strike fighter in 1975. The airframe, undercarriage and arrestor hook were strengthened, folding wings and catapult attachments were added, the landing gear widened and fuel capacity was increased. The control system was changed to a fully digital fly-by-wire system with quadruple-redundancy. 380 F-18 As were manufactured before production shifted to the F-18 C in September 1987. The F-18 C was the result of a 1987 block upgrade that added upgraded radar, avionics and new weapons capability. It also featured a new ejection seat, a jammer, synthetic aperture ground mapping radar, the ability to used the Hughes AN/AAR-50 thermal navigation pod, the Loral AN/AAS-38 NITE Hawk FLIR targeting pod, night vision goggles and two multi-function displays. In 1992 an improved engine was added and in 1993 the AAS-38A NITE Hawk laser designator and the AAS-38B were incorporated. Production of the F-18 C ended in 1999. The F-18 first saw combat during April 1986 against Libya. During the Gulf War F-18 pilots were credited with two MiG-21 kills. F-18s flew 4,551 sorties in the Gulf War with 8 planes damaged and two losses. The Hornet also fought in Operation Desert Storm, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and over Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s. The F-18 C Hornet has a maximum speed of Mach 1.8 and a maximum range of 2,070 miles. It carried one 20 mm M61A1 Vulcan cannon and has 9 hardpoints with a capacity of 13,700 pounds. It is capable of carrying most current weapons including the B61 nuclear bomb. The F-18 is used by Australia, Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain and Switzerland. The F-18 served as the basis for the F-18 Super Hornet which is actually an entirely new aircraft. This model shows a F-18 C Hornet flying with VFA-27 Strike Fighter Squadron 27 the Royal Maces VFA-27 flying off of the carrier USS Independence in 1997.

F-18 C Hornet



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