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1

North American XB-70 Valkyrie

When it was rolled out on 11 May 1964, the first prototype of North American’s XB-70 six-engine Mach 3 strategic bomber was the most expensive, most powerful, longest, and heaviest aeroplane ever built. It had six engines housed in a box structure beneath the delta wing, In flight, the wingtips could be lowered up to 65 degrees to contain the airflow under […]

2

Felixstowe F.2A

The Felixstowe F.2A was a first-rate flying boat that gave sterling service to Britain’s Royal Naval Air Service on anti-submarine and maritime patrol missions. It derived from the Curtiss H2 “Large America” flying boats supplied to the Royal Navy in early 1917. These American aeroplanes were excellent flyers, but the hull was structurally weak. Squadron Commander John Porte of the Royal Naval Air […]

3

North American F-100 Super Sabre

The Super Sabre was the first US Air Force (USAF) fighter capable of supersonic speed in level flight. It marked a radical step forward in design from North American’s first-generation jet fighter, the F-86 Sabre. Entering service with the USAF in November 1953, it had a 45-degree swept wing, an underfuselage speed brake, four 20mm cannon, and ranging radar in the upper lip […]

4

North American X-15

The record-breaking North American X- 15 was an aircraft designed specifically to push flight to its extreme limits. From June 1959 to November 1968 it made 199 experimental flights, Flown by a dozen different test pilots, including future Moon-mission leader Neil Armstrong. The aim was to investigate the problems of flying at unprecedented speeds and at altitudes close to or beyond the edge […]

5

North American P-51 Mustang

Ultimately the greatest long-range fighter of World War II, the P-51 Mustang took some time to find its war-winning final shape. Designed in 1940 to meet an urgent British requirement for an airecraft to equip RAF Fighter Command, it initially proved a partial failure. The advanced laminar-flow wings and streamlined all-metal fuselage made the aircraft fast in low-level flight, but its […]

6

Wright flyer III

The Wright Flyer III was the world’s first practical powered aeroplane, sturdy enough to withstand repeated flights and able to stay aloft for as long as its fuel lasted. Through a remarkable mix of scientific inquiry and hands-on experimentation, the dauntless American brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright cracked the challenge of sustained, controlled, heavier-than-air flight. At Kill Devil Hills. North Carolina, on 17 December 1903, […]

7

Short Sunderland

Few warplanes have been as graceful as the Short Sunderland flyineg boat, nor as consistently effective in performance. Evolved from the same company’s stately Empire flying boats, the Sunderland entered service with RAF Coastal Command in June 1938 as a long-range reconnaissance and antisubmarine patrol aircraft. When war broke out the following year, it became a vital element in Britain’s desperate struggle to keep […]

8

Douglas C-54 Skymaster

While never the most glamorous of military aeroplanes, transport aircraft are often the most vital. The ever-reliable C-54 Skymaster ferried soldiers and supplies across oceans and continents throughout World War II and for many years after. The original C-54s were simply Douglas DC-4 airliners converted for military use. Developed as the successor to the DC-3, with much greater carrying capacity and range, the DC-4 […]

9

McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II

The most significant Western fighter of the 1960s, the F-4 Phantom equipped not only the US Navy and US Air Force (USAF) but also numerous foreign air arms, including Britain’s Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. It played a prominent part in the Vietnam War, proving equally effective whether operating from aircraft carriers or from land bases. A twin-engine two-seater, the F-4 Phantom was […]

10

Boeing 314

The Boeing 314 “Clipper” flying boat was probably the most luxurious passenger aeroplane ever built, This stately giant was created for Pan American, who wanted an aircraft to carry wealthy passengers in comfort and style on transoceanic routes. Boeing married the wings and tailplane of their prototype XB-15 long-range bomber with a massive whale-shaped hull to make a flying boat of breathtaking […]