Hush-Kit Top Ten: The Ten best Fictional Aircraft

 

A lot of thought has gone into the fictional aircraft that have appeared in books, films and TV shows. This is a tribute to the clever and imaginative people who have put their aviation know-how to use in producing flying ‘stars’. These aircraft are characters in their own right, and have entered the consciousness of millions. It was hard to select only ten, but here is Hush-Kit’s selection.

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10. BAC TSR.2MS

Ridiculous and wonderful, the TSR.2MS is featured in the Japanese cartoon Stratos-4. It is a  mad, rocket-assisted tribute to a real-world cancelled bomber. In Stratos-4 the TSR2.MS is an ultra-fast interceptor, that can be launched from the back of a truck. The creators also considered the CF-105 Arrow for the part! Click here for more on TSR.2

9. AT-99 Scorpion

The AT-99 Scorpion featured in Avatar, and was a chimera of several real-world aircraft. The cockpit is reminiscent of the AH-1W, the weapons are based on real types and the fuselage has elements of the Kiowa. The ducted rotors are an interesting touch, and have featured on several small UAVs as well as flying cars, including the Israeli X-Hawk (which looks like it may have been a muse for the AT-99). The tail is similar to that of the He-162 Salamander. The AT-99 is a fascinating ‘mash-up’.

8.  Blue Thunder

Take a Gazelle helicopter, bolt on a load of prosthetics and you have Blue Thunder. The star of the 1983 film was apparently a dog to fly due to the extra weight required to ‘dress’  it to look like an advanced gunship helicopter.

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To keep this blog going- allowing us to create new articles- we need donations. We’re trying to do something different with Hush-Kit: give aviation fans something that is both entertaining, surprising and well-informed. Please do help us and click on the donate button above – you can really make a difference (suggested donation £10). You will keep us impartial and without advertisers – and allow us to carry on being naughty. Once you’ve done that we hope you enjoy 10 Incredible Soviet fighter Aircraft that never entered service. A big thank you to all of our readers.

 

7. Angel Interceptor

From the British puppet show Captain Scarlet, the Angel interceptor was a VTOL supersonic fighter. The type has an airspike on the nose (a good idea for hypersonic flight) and a ‘wave-riding’ wing. Clever stuff.

6. Air Wolf

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Like Blue Thunder, Air Wolf was another transvestite helicopter (I wish I could think of a good pun to describe that). Air Wolf was a 1980s TV show starring a dressed-up Bell 222. The helicopter was eventually sold after the show ended and became an ambulance helicopter in Germany. Sadly, it crashed in a thunderstorm on June 6, 1992, killing all three on board.

5. F/A-37

The 2005 film Stealth featured the F/A-37 fighter-bomber. The concept is clearly based on the ‘Switchblade’ patent filed by Grumman in 1999 for a Mach 3 capable stealth aircraft. The ‘Switchblade’ used extreme variable-geometry and was a very radical notion. The F/A-37 combines Switchblade-like  features with elements of the YF-23 to produce a visually convincing idea.

4. Mikoyan MiG-37B ‘Ferret-E’

In 1987, the faceted stealth design of the F-117 was highly classified. So, there were some very unhappy people at the Pentagon when model kit maker Testor released their MiG-37. This notional Soviet stealth fighter used a faceted shape to reduce its radar cross-section and a shielding trough to reduce its heat signature, painfully close to the then top-secret F-117. A naughty and well-informed prediction! Click here for the story of Russian stealth.

3. Carreidas 160

Tintin  featured  many wonderful real-world aircraft, including the Arado Ar 196 and de Havilland Mosquito, it also featured one of the very best fictional aeroplanes. The Tintin book Flight 714 featured a Hergé creation, a gloriously well conceived swing-wing supersonic business jet with three engines. Flight 714 came out in 1968, a year before Concorde flew, at a time when supersonic civil aircraft were a very hot topic. The central engine was fed through a bifurcated intake inboard of the outer inlets.

2. Lockheed F-19 Stealth fighter

In the early 1980s, observers found it odd that the F/A-18 was followed by the F-20. What was the F-19? Rumours of secret stealth aircraft were hot gossip at the time. The two exciting ideas were put together leading to the crypto-aeronautical F-19. It appeared in the 1983 ‘Deal Of The Century’ with Chevy Chase as a cranked delta, with outward canted fins. In 1986 Testor released a model kit, of an aircraft with a plectrum shaped blended wing/body and inward-canted fins, this become the archetypal F-19 image. A ‘Northrop-Loral F-19A Specter’ magazine advert did little to quell the F-19-mania, but the outing of the F-117 ‘stealth fighter’ in 1988 ended this enjoyable trend.

1.Mikoyan MiG-31 ‘Firefox’

The winner is course- Firefox. Rumour has it that Clint Eastwood originally wanted to cast the Saab Viggen, but it proved cheaper to use dodgy special effects. The resultant ‘Firefox’ was an exciting shape, with four engine intakes and a canard and cranked-delta wing design. With thought control and energy weapons, ‘Firefox’ was ahead technologically of even today’s F-35. Our winner also had a small amount of faceting on its nose and transparencies, but this appears to be for aesthetic reasons rather than hinting at a stealth insight. The 1982 film Firefox was based on a novel of the same name by Craig Thomas, in the novel however, the type looked similar to the MiG-25, as does the real MiG-31. Firefox was released at a time when real, new Soviet fighters were secretive and mysterious, and the film perfectly exploited this sexy mystique.

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51 comments

  1. Edward

    Bit slow off the mark here but I think the best fictional aircraft is the Savoia S.21 from the film ‘Porco Rosso’. Here it is: http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?um=1&hl=en&biw=1257&bih=620&tbm=isch&tbnid=tm1vmbosdX4XpM:&imgrefurl=http://studioghibliaircraftanalysis.blogspot.com/2011/04/porco-rosso-aircraft.html&docid=84N2LsI-FIlSGM&imgurl=http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-9LYF-rZrRkE/TbQPOOPWumI/AAAAAAAAAAM/gHcCg6K0KxA/s1600/porco_rosso_movie_image_01.jpg&w=1600&h=1096&ei=pjEhUMSHLsWp0QW554CYDQ&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=410&sig=105392655455708397258&page=1&tbnh=117&tbnw=171&start=0&ndsp=17&ved=1t:429,r:4,s:0,i:82&tx=107&ty=63

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  16. aceabbott

    What a great website: Hushkit gets mass quantities of kudos for his wonderful contribution to aviation. My small contribution is a scintillating memoir of a radically adventuresome 36-year aviation career (www.therogueaviator.com), Allen Morris/aka Ace Abbott (pen name)

  17. Actuarius

    Most (if not all) the Porco Rosso aircraft were based on Schneider Trophy aircraft. I’m just rather surprised that Fireflash from Thunderbirds didn’t make the cut – or even Thunderbirds 1 or 2.

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    • LR

      There are some great planes on here, but it sounds like “The Ten Best Ficional Aircraft Since 1980, Plus a Token Plane from Later Tin Tin” or something. The golden age of fictional aircraft was probably the 1930’s, though of course TinTin kept it going for some time after that.

      For instance, here’s a fictional craft from the Bill Barnes stories called the Scarlet Stormer:
      http://tinyurl.com/m6adbw6
      There were dozens of unique aircrate in the stories, including some for the bad guys. More on Bill Barnes here:
      http://web.archive.org/web/20090908122750/http://home.att.net/~dannysoar4/BillBarnes.htm
      Smilin Jack had a bunch, too, like this one:

      I’m not an expert on this stuff, but I’m sure some of those older ones rate. Then there’s those fictional aircraft that may show up in proposals to the DOD.

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  21. mgsolidsnake101

    What about ASF-X “Shinden II” from Ace Combat series (found in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon and Ace Combat Infinity)?

    • Bruce

      It seems to have both side-intakes and a dorsal-intake. The only point in using a dorsal intake is to reduce RCS from ground based radars – kinda pointless if you have side intakes too. Even more pointless if you have canards (fairly unstealthy) & underwing weapons (completely unstealthy).

      The forward swept wings can help with extreme manoeuvrability – but not when you have a dorsal intake which is starved of air during high AOA turns.

      Looks cool though 🙂

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    • elleetoo

      Or the supporting actor in ‘No Highway’, the Assegai? Although the name and the tendency to break up in flight imply that is was just a lawyer-averse synonym for ‘Swift’.

  27. Ian Campbell

    One that leaps to mind (not immediately, however) is _Tom Swift’s_ giant atomic-powered VTOL jumbo-jet predecessor “Sky Queen”. He designed & flew many aircraft but this is the one which really mattered. Besides, if you have an atomic-powered 4-jet STOL-VTOL strategic transport which can fly for weeks or months on end, do you really need any other aircraft?
    It’s a personal mansion-laboratory in the clouds. Tony Stark only has a talking rocket suit.

    I’ve never seen an image of Sky Queen but I assume it was more or less like a C-5A or B747 but with hints of _Avengers_ ~ _Agents_Shield_ C-17++.

    • Larry Schmidt

      Tom Swift, Jr.’s aircraft was named the “Flying Lab”. I’d post an illustration from the books when I figure out how to post photos here.

      Adios, Larry.

      • Ian Campbell

        Hi Larry, yeah, I d’loaded about 4 of the novels but they were just text, no llustrations! So bummed; all I wanted was the shot of the freighter from _Aquatomic Tracker_ being torpedoed at night seen from Tom’s flying submarine.

        I thought Sky Queen was named Sky Queen but ncknamed Flying Lab (because she was always faithful & barked at strangers)?

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