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Piston-Engined FightersJet FightersLight/Medium Bombers/StrikeHeavy BombersCivil Jet-Engined Transports

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 (NATO reporting name: Foxbat) is a supersonic interceptor and reconnaissance aircraft that was among the fastest military aircraft to enter service. Designed by the Soviet Union’s Mikoyan-Gurevich bureau the first prototype flew in 1964 with entry into service in 1970. It has a top speed of Mach 2.83+ (as high as Mach 3.2, but at risk of significant damage to the engines), and features a powerful radar and four air-to-air missiles.

Role: Interceptor and reconnaissance aircraft

Manufacturer: Mikoyan-Gurevich OKB

Wingspan: 46’ (14 m)

Length: 65’ (20 m)

Weight: 44,090 lbs (20,000 kg)

First flight: 6 March 1964

Introduction: 1970

Status: Limited service

Primary users: Russian Air Force, Algerian Air Force, Syrian Air Force, Military of Turkmenistan

Number built: 1,186

Developed into: Mikoyan MiG-31

Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde

Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde is a retired turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner or supersonic transport (SST). It is one of only two SSTs to have entered commercial service; the other was the Tupolev Tu-144. Concorde was jointly developed and produced by Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) under an Anglo-French treaty. First flown in 1969, Concorde entered service in 1976 and continued commercial flights for 27 years.

Role: Supersonic airliner

Top speed: 1,350 mph (2,172 km/h)

Range: 4,505 miles (7,250 km)

First flight: 2 March 1969

Introduction: 21 January 1976

Retired: 26 November 2003

Status: Retired from service

Primary users: British Airways, Air France

Number built: 20 (including 6 non-airline aircraft)

Unit cost: £23 million in 1977

Manufacturer: BAC (now BAE Systems), Sud-Aviation, Aérospatiale (now EADS)

Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor

The Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor is a single-seat, twin-engine fifth-generation super-maneuverable fighter aircraft that uses stealth technology. It was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but has additional capabilities that include ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence roles. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics is the prime contractor and is responsible for the majority of the airframe, weapon systems and final assembly of the F-22. Program partner Boeing Defense, Space & Security provides the wings, aft fuselage, avionics integration, and training systems.

Role: Stealth air superiority fighter

National origin: United States

Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, Boeing Defense, Space & Security

Top speed: 1,498 mph (2,410 km/h)

Wingspan: 45’ (14 m)

Length: 62’ (19 m)

Engine type: Pratt & Whitney F119

First flight: 7 September 1997

Introduction: 15 December 2005

Status: In service

Primary user: United States Air Force

Produced: F-22: 1996–2011

Number built: 195 (eight test and 187 operational)

Unit cost: US$150 million (flyaway cost for FY2009)

Developed from: Lockheed YF-22

Developed into: Lockheed Martin X-44 MANTA, Lockheed Martin FB-22

Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit

The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit (also known as the Stealth Bomber) is an American strategic bomber, featuring low observable stealth technology designed for penetrating dense anti-aircraft defenses; it is able to deploy both conventional and nuclear weapons. The bomber has a crew of two and can drop up to eighty 500 lb (230 kg)-class JDAM GPS-guided bombs, or sixteen 2,400 lb (1,100 kg) B83 nuclear bombs. The B-2 is the only aircraft that can carry large air-to-surface standoff weapons in a stealth configuration.

Role: Stealth Strategic bomber

National origin: United States

Manufacturer: Northrop Corporation, Northrop Grumman

Wingspan: 172’ (52 m)

Top speed: 628 mph (1,010 km/h)

Length: 69’ (21 m)

Range: 6,897 miles (11,100 km)

Unit cost: US$737,000,000 (1997)

Engine type: General Electric F118

First flight: 17 July 1989

Introduction: April 1997

Status: In service

Primary user: United States Air Force


The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk was an American single-engine, single-seat, all-metal fighter and ground attack aircraft that first flew in 1938. The P-40 design was a modification of the previous Curtiss P-36 Hawk which reduced development time and enabled a rapid entry into production and operational service. The Warhawk was used by most Allied powers during World War II, and remained in front line service until the end of the war. It was the third most-produced American fighter, after the P-51 and P-47; by November 1944, when production of the P-40 ceased, 13,738 had been built, all at Curtiss-Wright Corporation’s main production facilities at Buffalo, New York.

Role: Fighter aircraft

National origin: United States

Manufacturer: Curtiss-Wright Corporation

Designer: Donovan Berlin

Wingspan: 37’ (11 m)

Length: 32’ (9.65 m)

Top speed: 360 mph (579 km/h)

First flight: 14 October 1938

Retired: 1958

Primary users: United States Army Air Forces, Royal Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force

Produced: 1939–1944, Buffalo, New York

Number built: 13,738

Unit cost: US$44,892 in 1944

Developed from: Curtiss P-36 Hawk

Variants: Curtiss XP-46


The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine jet airliner manufactured by the European corporation Airbus, a subsidiary of EADS. It is the world’s largest passenger airliner and, due to its size, many airports have had to upgrade their facilities to properly accommodate it. Initially named Airbus A3XX, the aircraft was designed to challenge Boeing’s monopoly in the large-aircraft market; the A380 made its first flight on 27 April 2005 and began commercial service in October 2007 with Singapore Airlines.

Wingspan: 262’ (80 m)

Length: 239’ (73 m)

Range: 9,569 miles (15,400 km)

Top speed: 634 mph (1,020 km/h)

Engine type: Jet engine

Role: Wide-body, double-deck jet airliner

National origin: Multi-national

First flight: 27 April 2005

Introduction: 25 October 2007, Singapore Airlines

Status: In service

Primary users: Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Lufthansa

Produced: 2004 - present

Number built: 97 as of January 2013

Unit cost: US$389.9 million

Manufacturer: Airbus


The Saab JAS 39 Gripen (Griffin) is a lightweight single-engine multi-role fighter manufactured by the Swedish aerospace company Saab. It was designed to replace the Saab 35 Draken and 37 Viggen in the Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet). The Gripen has a delta wing and canard configuration with relaxed stability design and fly-by-wire technology. It is powered by the Volvo-Flygmotor RM12 engine, a derivative of the General Electric F404, and has a top speed of Mach 2.

Wingspan: 28’ (8.41 m)

Length: 46’ (14 m)

Engine type: General Electric F404

Manufacturer: Saab AB

Role: Multi-role fighter

First flight: 9 December 1988

Introduction: 1 November 1997

Status: In service

Primary users: Swedish Air Force, South African Air Force, Czech Air Force, Hungarian Air Force

Produced: 1987 - present

Number built: 235

Unit cost: US$ 40–60 million

Manufacturer: Saab AB/Saab Group


The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is a four-engine heavy bomber aircraft developed in the 1930s for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC). Competing against Douglas and Martin for a contract to build 200 bombers, the Boeing entry outperformed both competitors and more than met the Air Corps’ expectations. Although Boeing lost the contract because the prototype crashed, the Air Corps was so impressed with Boeing’s design that they ordered 13 more B-17s for further evaluation. From its introduction in 1938, the B-17 Flying Fortress evolved through numerous design advances. The B-17 was primarily employed by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) in the daylight precision strategic bombing campaign of World War II against German industrial and military targets. 

Top speed: 287 mph (462 km/h)

Role: Heavy bomber, Strategic bomber

National origin: United States

First flight: 28 July 1935

Introduction: April 1938

Retired: 1968 (Brazilian Air Force)

Primary users: United States Army Air Corps, Royal Air Force

Produced: 1936–1945

Number built: 12,731

Unit cost: US$238,329

Variants: XB-38 Flying Fortress, YB-40 Flying Fortress, C-108 Flying Fortress

Developed into: Boeing 307

Manufacturer: Boeing

Designer: Edward Curtis Wells

BOEING 747 (U.S.A.)

Role: Wide-body, long-range passenger/cargo transport

National origin: United States

Manufacturer: Boeing Commercial Airplanes

First flight: February 9, 1969

Introduction: January 22, 1970 with Pan Am

Status: In service

Primary users: British Airways, United Airlines, Lufthansa, KLM

Produced: 1968 – present

Number built: 1,458 as of December 2012

Unit cost: 747-100: US$24 million (1967), 747-200: US$39 million (1976), 747-300: US$83 million (1982), 747-400: US$228–260 million (2007), 747-8I: US$351.4 million, 747-8F: US$352 million

Variants: Boeing 747SP, Boeing 747-400, Boeing 747-8, Boeing VC-25, Boeing E-4

Developed into: Boeing YAL-1, Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter

(Pictured is the 747-400)


The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang was an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II, the Korean War and other conflicts. The Mustang was conceived, designed and built by North American Aviation (NAA) in response to a specification issued directly to NAA by the British Purchasing Commission. The prototype NA-73X airframe was rolled out on 9 September 1940, 102 days after the contract was signed and, with an engine installed, first flew on 26 October.

The Mustang was originally designed to use the Allison V-1710 engine, which had limited high-altitude performance. It was first flown operationally by the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a tactical-reconnaissance aircraft and fighter-bomber. The addition of the Rolls-Royce Merlin to the P-51B/C model transformed the Mustang’s performance at altitudes above 15,000 ft, giving it a performance that matched or bettered the majority of the Luftwaffe’s fighters at altitude. The definitive version, the P-51D, was powered by the Packard V-1650-7, a license-built version of the Rolls-Royce Merlin 60 series two-stage two-speed supercharged engine, and armed with six .50 caliber (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns.

From late 1943, P-51Bs (supplemented by P-51Ds from mid-1944) were used by the USAAF’s Eighth Air Force to escort bombers in raids over Germany, while the RAF’s 2 TAF and the USAAF’s Ninth Air Force used the Merlin-powered Mustangs as fighter-bombers, roles in which the Mustang helped ensure Allied air superiority in 1944. The P-51 was also in service with Allied air forces in the North African, Mediterranean and Italian theaters  and saw limited service against the Japanese in the Pacific War. During World War II, Mustang pilots claimed 4,950 enemy aircraft shot down.

At the start of Korean War, the Mustang was the main fighter of the United Nations until jet fighters such as the F-86 took over this role; the Mustang then became a specialized fighter-bomber. Despite the advent of jet fighters, the Mustang remained in service with some air forces until the early 1980s. After World War II and the Korean War, many Mustangs were converted for civilian use, especially air racing.

Role: Fighter

National origin: United States

Manufacturer: North American Aviation

Top speed: 437 mph (703 km/h)

Length: 32’ (9.83 m)

First flight: 26 October 1940

Introduction: 1942

Status: Retired from military service 1957, still in civil use

Primary users: United States Army Air Forces, Royal Air Force, Chinese Nationalist Air Force, numerous others.

Number built: More than 15,000

Unit cost: US$50,985 in 1945

Variants: North American A-36, Rolls-Royce Mustang Mk.X, Cavalier Mustang

Developed into North American F-82 Twin Mustang, Piper PA-48 Enforcer, Rolls-Royce Mustang Mk.X


The North American B-25 Mitchell was an American twin-engine medium bomber manufactured by North American Aviation. It was used by many Allied air forces, in every theater of World War II, as well as many other air forces after the war ended, and saw service across four decades.

The B-25 was named in honor of General Billy Mitchell, a pioneer of U.S. military aviation. By the end of its production, nearly 10,000 B-25s in numerous models had been built. These included a few limited variations, such as the United States Navy’s and Marine Corps’ PBJ-1 patrol bomber and the United States Army Air Forces’ F-10 photo reconnaissance aircraft.

Role: Medium bomber

Manufacturer: North American Aviation

Length: 53’ (16 m)

Top speed: 272 mph (438 km/h)

First flight: 19 August 1940

Introduction: 1941

Retired: 1979 (Indonesia)

Primary users: United States Army Air Forces, Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Air Force, United States Navy

Number built: 9,984

Developed from: XB-21

Developed into: North American XB-28

JUNKERS JU 88 (Germany)

The Junkers Ju 88 was a World War II German Luftwaffe twin-engine, multi-role aircraft. Designed by Hugo Junkers’ company in the mid-1930s to be a so-called Schnellbomber which would be too fast for any of the fighters of its era to intercept, it suffered from a number of technical problems during the later stages of its development and early operational roles, but became one of the most versatile combat aircraft of the war. Affectionately known as “The Maid of all Work”, the Ju 88 proved to be suited to almost any role. Like a number of other Luftwaffe bombers, it was used successfully as a bomber, dive bomber, night fighter, torpedo bomber, reconnaissance aircraft, heavy fighter, and even as a flying bomb during the closing stages of conflict.

Role: Dive bomber/Tactical bomber/Night fighter/Torpedo bomber/Heavy fighter

Manufacturer: Junkers

Top speed: 317 mph (510 km/h)

Wingspan: 59’ (18 m)

Length: 51’ (15 m)

Designer: W. H. Evers and Alfred Gassner

First flight: 21 December 1936

Introduction: 1939

Retired: 1951 (France)

Primary user: Luftwaffe

Number built: 15,183

Variants: Junkers Ju 188


The Bristol Blenheim was a British light bomber aircraft designed and built by the Bristol Aeroplane Company that was used extensively in the early days of the Second World War. It was adapted as an interim long-range and night fighter, pending the availability of the Beaufighter. It was one of the first British aircraft to have all-metal stressed-skin construction, to utilize retractable landing gear, flaps, powered gun turret and variable pitch propellers. A Canadian-built variant named the Bolingbroke was used as an anti-submarine and training aircraft.

Top speed: 266 mph (428 km/h)

Wingspan: 56’ (17 m)

Length: 43’ (13 m)

Role: Light bomber / fighter

Manufacturer: Bristol Aeroplane Company

Designer Frank Barnwell

First flight: 12 April 1935

Introduction: 1937

Retired: 1944 (United Kingdom), 1956 (Finland)

Primary users: Royal Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, Finnish Air Force, Royal Yugoslav Air Force

Number built: 4,422

Variants: Bristol Beaufort, Bristol Fairchild Bolingbroke