We asked a private-jet interior designer to judge 8 fighter cockpits

First we asked a Topgun instructor to rate 8 cockpits, then we asked an art historian – and now we turn to a designer of private jet interiors. Alexander McDiarmid rates the interior design style of 8 fighter cockpits.

Convair F-106A Delta Dart

Information overload in a very small space. All text is small, difficult to read and so many dials and switches! You can introduce mirrors to make smaller spaces appear bigger but in this case that would only add to the problem. Is this where Bell & Ross get their watch inspiration from?

Grumman F-14A Tomcat

As above but slightly less cluttered due to one joy stick however the seat material both in colour and fabric adds a little warmth. While the dominant, black half moon window frame is a serious ‘statement piece’ (Kelly Hoppen speak) it’s no Gulfstream G550.

General Dynamics F-16A Fighting Falcon


Modernity is starting to appear along with greater user functionality and the side stick gives an impression of more central space. Thought should be given in how best to use the extra space with the integration of perhaps a foldout tray table and wireless device charging. The seat design is very Bauhaus, simple yet effective and very much form following function. The battle ship grey interior paint against the black wool (cashmere, angora?) seat is a challenging cmf (colour material finish) palette and desperately in need of some warmth perhaps inspired by a falcon’s plumage and colouring.

Sukhoi Su-27 ‘Flanker B’

The Trabant blue colour for such a small space is commanding on the eye, one wall/surface only in blue, to set the interior design tone would be on trend. The interior does not look very solid, flimsy almost but not cluttered and overfilled unlike the others.

Why use MDF when oak is available? The layout has a simplistic yet functional Soviet era charm and design pieces from this period are very both praised and collectible. This is certainly a stand out piece of interior design.

Panavia Tornado F3

Finally, elements of symmetry in the cockpit. Period industrial design aesthetic with a less is more philosophy, the dominating angular design really dominates the space with 1980’s electronic Tomy games and Casio watches for inspiration. The heads up display makes for a great statement piece.

Somewhat of an arcade game aesthetic for a young bachelor pad perhaps or games room.

Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet

Great, modern and ordered industrial design aesthetic with glorious mood night lighting offering a calm environment and cozy feel. Definitely somewhere one might want to relax in after a long day and especially on a cold night. The heads up display makes for a great statement piece and really grounds yet balances the space much like a central, crystal chandelier. In terms of a pleasing piece of aesthetic interior design this is the best in the article.

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Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

Very modern aesthetic with the Tesla inspired screen but somewhat of a brutal and cold aesthetic. Not a very elegant interior design like the F/A-18E Super Hornet, and getting Blaupunkt in car radio vibe coming too… There is no sense of harmony or flow from the brutal interior to sublime exterior. While the two-tone exterior matte grey painting creates visual interest, it could have been used in the interior sensitively. Budget problems? Plus side is the large fan intake for cockpit air conditioning I assume. Any A/C interior grilles should be painted in the same exterior grey matte paint.

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