The lightest fighter on this list of titanic pugilists weighs in at an astonishing 31 tonnes, the heaviest at over 63 tonnes, is the same weight as 12 adult elephants.These formidable fighter aircraft were created in such generous proportions for a reason, and are generally long-ranged, very fast and extremely well armed. Almost half of them failed to reach front-line service, often crippled by the huge costs incurred by such heavy advanced fighter projects. The joker in the pack is the Boeing YB-40, a long-range escort fighter version of the B-17 bomber. Armed with up to 30 ‘fifty-cal’ guns (and sometimes a 40-mm cannon) this ferocious gunship proved too heavy and draggy to keep up with the bombers it was created to protect. After a 25 aircraft operational trial it was cancelled.
The weight given is the maximum take-off, apart from when otherwise specified.
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15. Maple Regrets: Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow
Max take-off weight: 31120 kg (68,605 lb)
Length: 23.71 m (77 ft 9 in)
14. Military Industrial Oedipus Complex: Lockheed Martin F-35A/C Lighting II
Max take-off weight: 31800 kg (70,000 lbs)
Length: 15.67 m (50 ft 5 in)
13. Le Strike Eagle: Dassault Mirage 4000
Max take-off weight: 32000 kg (70,548 lb)
Length: 18.70 m (61 ft 4 in)
12. The Reluctant Gunbus: Boeing YB-40 Flying Fortress
Max take-off weight: 34000 kg (74,000 lb)
Length: 22.6 m (74 ft 9 in)
11. Iranian Topgun: Grumman F-14 Tomcat
Weight: 33720 kg (74,350 lb)
Length: 19.1 m (62 ft 9 in)
10. Heavyweight acrobat: Sukhoi Su-30
Weight: 34500 kg (76,060 lb)
Length: 21.935 m (72 ft 9 in)
9. The Unborn Oligarch: Sukhoi PAK FA
Weight: 35000 kg (77,160 lb)
Length: 19.8 m (65 ft)
8. China’s Raptor: Chengdu J-20
Weight: 35381 kg (78,000 lb) – estimated
Length: 20 m (66.8 ft)
7. Foxbatmobile: Mikoyan MiG-25
Weight: 36720 kg (80,952 lb)- (loaded not maximum)
Length: 19.75 m (64 ft 10 in)
6. Reagan’s Lamborghini: Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor
Weight: 38000 kg (83,500 lb)
Length: 18.92 m (62 ft 1 in)
5. McNamara’s Folly: General Dynamics–Grumman F-111B
Max take-off weight: 39900 kg (88,000 lb)
Length: 20.98 m (68 ft 10 in)
4. Fiddler on the roof: Tupolev Tu-128
Max take-off weight: 43700 kg (96,342 lb)
Length: 30.06 m (99 ft)
3. Psycho-reheat: Mikoyan MiG-31
Max take-off weight: 46200 kg (101,900 lb)
Length: 22.69 m (74 ft 5 in)
2. Skunky nightrider: Lockheed YF-12
Max take-off weight: 63504 kg (140,000 lb)
Length: 30.97 m (101 ft 8 in)
1. South Atlantic hunter-killer: Hawker Siddeley Nimrod MR.2P
In preparation for the Falklands war of 1982, the RAF gave their Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft the ability to carry two AIM-9 Sidewinders. The primary intent was not self-defence – but to destroy Argentinian maritime reconnaissance aircraft – arguably making the Nimrod the heaviest fighter ever to fly.
Max take-off weight: 87090 kg (192,000 lb)
Length: 38.65 m (126 ft 9 in)
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