Category: Top Tens

Hush-Kit presents: The top popstar-killing aircraft manufacturer of all time

From Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper to Aaliyah and whoever’s next, so many of our brightest musical stars have ended their lives in planes. But have you ever wondered which plane has killed the most? No, of course you haven’t, because you’re not a DREADFUL FUCKING GHOUL. 

Fortunately, in bold defiance of good taste, Stephen Caulfield has calculated which aircraft manufacturer has inadvertently been responsible for the death of the most pop stars. In the interest of fairness, I should add that Aaliyah was killed in a Cessna 402B.

And the ‘winner’ is: Beechcraft

(Stephen is this morally OK?) Please address all legal complaints to the author.

Beechcraft Model H18

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Otis Redding,
Matthew Kelly
Jimmy King
Phalon Jones
Ronnie Caldwell
Carl Cunningham

Bonanza 35 (V-tail)

Bonanza 35 vee tail

Buddy Holly,
Ritchie Valens
J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson

E18S

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Jim Croce

Bonanza M35

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Randy Rhoads

33 Debonair

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Jim Reeves

Bonus listing:

Baron

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Robert Smithson
(Land Artist – Spiral Jetty)

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Stephen Caulfield cleans limousines around the corner from what was once the Avro Canada plant.  He appreciates writing, art, aeroplanes and the tragic nature of modernity in pretty much equal parts these days.  His blog is www.suburban-poverty.com

Images: courtesy of author.

The ten best BVR fighters of 2013

FA-1877SQNAsraamAmraam

To excel in Beyond Visual Range air combat a fighter must be well-armed and equipped with capable avionics. It must be able to fly high and fast to impart the maximum range to its missiles, allowing them to hit the enemy before he is even aware of their presence. The aircraft must give its crews good enough situational awareness not to shoot their friends down, and be easy to operate so it can deploy its weapons quickly and accurately. The black magic of the aircraft’s electronic warfare suite can also come in to its own, reducing the opponent’s situation awareness.

Hardware is generally less important than training and tactics, but removing these human factors from the mix allows us to judge the most deadly long-range fighting machines currently in service. The exact ordering of this list is open to question, but all the types mentioned are extraordinarily potent killers. This list only includes currently active fighters (so no PAK FAs etc) and only includes weapons and sensors that are actually in service today (so no Meteor missiles etc).

10. Lockheed Martin F-16E/F

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A great sensor suite, including a modern AESA and comprehensive defensive aids systems is combined with advanced weapons and a proven platform; a small radar cross section also helps. However, the type is let down by mediocre ‘high and fast’ performance, fewer missiles than its rivals and a smaller detection range than some of its larger rivals. With Conformal Fuel Tanks its agility is severely limited.

Armament for A2A mission: 4 x AIM-120C-7, 2 x AIM-9X (1 x 20-mm cannon.).

9. Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

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Well equipped with a great defensive system and excellent weapons the Super Hornet  has much to offer. It is happiest at lower speeds and altitudes  making it a fearsome dogfighter, but is less capable at the BVR mission; a mediocre high-speed high-altitude performance let it down, as does a pedestrian climb rate and acceleration at higher speeds. The touch screen cockpit has disadvantages, as switches and buttons  can be felt ‘blind’ and do not require ‘heads-down’ use. The much-touted AN/APG-79 AESA radars introduced on Block II aircraft has proved unreliable and has enormous development problems. One scathing report said ‘ …operational testing does not demonstrate a statistically significant difference in mission accomplishment between F/A-18E/F aircraft equipped with AESA and those equipped with the legacy radar.’ Read an exclusive interview with a Super Hornet pilot here.

Armament for A2A mission: Super Hornet (high drag ‘Christmas tree’) 12 x AIM-120, realistic = 6 x AIM-120C-7  + 2/4 AIM-9X ) (1 x 20-mm cannon)

8. Grumman F-14 Tomcat (IIRAF)

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The star of ‘Top Gun’ remains active with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Air Force. Though an aged design it probably retains an impressive ultra-long range engagement capability. As one source said to Hush-Kit ‘Against a US Navy F/A-18, the Tomcat’s radar and AIM-54 are still going to cause a real headache.’

A2A armament:  4 x AIM-54 (remanufactured), 2 x Fatter (local AIM-9P version) (one 20-mm cannon)

Top Ten fictional aircraft here

7. Dassault Rafale

dassault_rafale

In many ways the Dassault Rafale deserves a higher ranking in this top ten. It has great agility, one of the lowest radar cross sections of a ‘conventional’ aircraft and its defensive systems are generally considered superior to those of its arch-rival, the Typhoon. It falls down in its main armament, the MICA, which is generally considered to have a lower maximum range than later model AMRAAMs. It has a little less poke than the Typhoon in terms of  thrust-to-weight ratio leading some potential customers in hot countries to demand an engine upgrade. It has yet to be integrated with a helmet cueing system in operational service and the recent fitment of an AESA, though a publicity coup, is very far from being fleetwide, leaving the vast majority of aircraft with a PESA squeezed into an unfortunately petite nose, a technological cul-de-sac lacking the flexibility of the pure AESA of its US rivals (though it is still a highly regarded sensor).

A2A armament: 6 x MICA (possibly 8 if required, though this has not been seen operationally)  (one 30-mm cannon)

6. McDonnell Douglas F-15C (V) 3 Eagle/Boeing F-15SG

Though the famously one-sided score sheet of the F-15 should be taken with a pinch of salt (Israeli air-to-air claims are often questionable to say the least), the F-15 has proved itself a tough, kickass fighter that can be depended on. It lacks the agility (certainly at lower speeds) of its Russian counterparts, but in its most advanced variants has an enormously capable radar in the APG-63(V)3. The F-15 remains the fastest Western fighter to have ever entered service, and is currently the fastest non-Russian frontline aircraft of any kind in the world. The type is let down by a giant radar cross section, a massive infra-red signature and an inferior high altitude performance to a newer generation of fighters.

A2A armament: 6 x AIM-120C-7, 2 x AIM-9X (1 x 20-mm cannon)

Republic of Singapore Air Force F-15SG lands Oct. 3, 2012, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The aircraft is assigned to the 428th Fighter Squadron Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho Alaska for the RedFlag-Alaska exercis (1

5. Sukhoi Su-30MK

The most capable official members of Sukhoi’s ‘Flanker’ family are the export Su-30MKs. Agile and well-armed they are formidable opponents. Armed with ten missiles the Su-30 has an impressive combat persistence and is able to fly impressively long distance missions. The radar is a large, long-ranged PESA (featuring some elements of an AESA) and Indian aircraft carry particularly good Israeli jamming pods. The type has proved itself superior to both the RAF’s Tornado F.Mk 3 and USAF’s F-15C in exercises, though the degree of dominance over the F-15C is marginal to the point that superior training, tactics and C3 saw the US lord over the type in later exercises. The pilot workload is higher than in later Western designs, the engines demanding  to maintain and the vast airframe has a large radar cross section.

A2A armament: 6 x R-77, 4 x R-73 (1 x 30-mm cannon)

Su30MKI-07

4. Shenyang J-11B

The Chinese pirate version of the ‘Flanker’ features a reduced radar cross section and improved weapons and avionics. With the latest Type 1474 radar (with a 100 miles + range) and the highly-regarded PL-12 active radar AAM, it is an impressive fighter.

6 x PL-12, 4 x PL-10 (or R-73E) + ( 1 x 30-mm cannon)

j11b-prototype

3. Mikoyan MiG-31BM

The recent

The fastest modern fighter in the world, with a top speed of Mach 2.83, the MiG-31 offers some unique capabilities. No aircraft has a longer air-to-air weapon than the type’s huge R-33, which can engage targets well over 100 miles away. Designed to hunt in packs of four or more aircraft the type can sweep vast swathes of airspace, sharing vital targeting information by data-link with other aircraft. The enormous PESA radar was the first ever fitted to a fighter. The type is marred by a mountainous radar cross section and poor agility at lower speeds. More on the MiG-31 here and here.

 4 x R-33, 2 x R-40TD (1 x 23-mm cannon)

mig-31

2. Eurofighter Typhoon

A high power-to-weight ratio, a large wing and a well designed cockpit put the Typhoon pilot in an advantageous position in a BVR engagement. Acceleration rates, climb rates (according to a German squadron leader it can out-climb a F-22) and agility at high speeds are exceptionally good. Pilot workload is very low compared to most rivals and the aircraft has proved reliable. The type will be the ‘last swinging disc in town’ as it will be among the last modern fighters to feature a mechanically scanned radar; the Captor radar may use an old fashioned technology but it still a highly-rated piece of kit. It has a smaller radar cross section than both the F-15 and Su-30 and superior high altitude performance to Rafale. Combat persistence is good and the AIM-132 ASRAAM of RAF aircraft are reported to have a notable BVR capability.

A2A armament (RAF): 6 x AIM-120C-5, 2 x AIM-132 (1 x 27-mm cannon)

eurofighter_typhoon_flying-other

1. Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor

Undisputed king of beyond-visual range air combat is the F-22 Raptor. Its superbly stealthy design means it is likely to remain undetected to enemy fighters, calmly despatching its hapless opponents. The type’s excellent AESA radar is world class, and its ‘low-probability of interception’ operation enables to see without being seen. When high-altitude limitations are not in place (due to safety concerns) the type fights from a higher perch than F-15s and F-16s, and is more frequently supersonic. High and fast missile shots give its AMRAAMs far greater reach and allow the type to stay out harm’s way. The F-22 is expensive, suffers from a poor radius of action for its size and has suffered a high attrition rate for a modern fighter.

6 x AIM-120C-5 + 2 x AIM-9M (1 x 20-mm cannon)

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Let’s get in to the merge, Top Ten Dogfighters here

By Joe Coles &  Thomas Newdick

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“If you have any interest in aviation, you’ll be surprised, entertained and fascinated by Hush-Kit – the world’s best aviation blog”. Rowland White, author of the best-selling ‘Vulcan 607’

I’ve selected the richest juiciest cuts of Hush-Kit, added a huge slab of new unpublished material, and with Unbound, I want to create a beautiful coffee-table book. Pre-order your copy now right here  

 

TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY NOW

From the cocaine, blood and flying scarves of World War One dogfighting to the dark arts of modern air combat, here is an enthralling ode to these brutally exciting killing machines.

The Hush-Kit Book of Warplanes is a beautifully designed, highly visual, collection of the best articles from the fascinating world of military aviation –hand-picked from the highly acclaimed Hush-kit online magazine (and mixed with a heavy punch of new exclusive material). It is packed with a feast of material, ranging from interviews with fighter pilots (including the English Electric Lightning, stealthy F-35B and Mach 3 MiG-25 ‘Foxbat’), to wicked satire, expert historical analysis, top 10s and all manner of things aeronautical, from the site described as:

“the thinking-man’s Top Gear… but for planes”.

The solid well-researched information about aeroplanes is brilliantly combined with an irreverent attitude and real insight into the dangerous romantic world of combat aircraft.

FEATURING

        • Interviews with pilots of the F-14 Tomcat, Mirage, Typhoon, MiG-25, MiG-27, English Electric Lighting, Harrier, F-15, B-52 and many more.
        • Engaging Top (and bottom) 10s including: Greatest fighter aircraft of World War II, Worst British aircraft, Worst Soviet aircraft and many more insanely specific ones.
        • Expert analysis of weapons, tactics and technology.
        • A look into art and culture’s love affair with the aeroplane.
        • Bizarre moments in aviation history.
        • Fascinating insights into exceptionally obscure warplanes.

The book will be a stunning object: an essential addition to the library of anyone with even a passing interest in the high-flying world of warplanes, and featuring first-rate photography and a wealth of new world-class illustrations.

Rewards levels include these packs of specially produced trump cards.

Pre-order your copy now right here  

 

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Top ten greatest cancelled fighters

zSuperTiger

Many of the finest aeroplanes ever made were consigned to the scrapheap of history. Sometimes they were defeated in evaluations by superior opponents.  Sometimes bribery, intrigue or plain bad luck killed these unlucky warriors. Here is a mouth-watering selection of ten fighters which didn’t make it to squadron service.

10.  McDonnell Douglas/Northrop YF-23 Black Widow II

Northrop-McDonnell Douglas YF-23

Despite being faster and stealthier, the YF-23 was turned down in favour of what became the F-22 Raptor. A real shame, as USAF missed out on one of the best-looking fighters ever made (as opposed to the F-22, which looks like an F-15 that hasn’t been taken out its packaging). The F-23’s likely top speed is not in the public domain, but it should be noted that it was considered faster than the F-22.

9. Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow

arrow

The phrase ‘Canadian superfighter’ sounds odd, but that’s what the CF-105 was. Fast, long-ranged and fitted with advanced avionics, it would have proved formidable. It is still mourned by Canadians today, leading to the bizarre recent proposal for a production line to be opened in the near future.

8. Martin-Baker MB5 (1944)

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The MB5 The full potential of the Griffon 83 engine was harnessed by a six bladed contra-rotated propeller.

The best British piston-engined fighter ever flown. Well armed, very fast and easy to maintain. Flight trials proved it be truly exceptional, with a top speed of 460mph, brisk acceleration and docile handling. Its cockpit layout set a gold standard that Boscombe Down recommended should be followed by all piston-engined fighters. A multitude of access panels made it far easier to maintain than its contemporaries, and its tough structure (a more advanced version of the load-bearing tubular box type favoured by Hawker) would have given it greater survivability. The only thing the MB5 lacked was good timing, it first flew two weeks before the Allied Invasion of Normandy. Born at the birth of the jet age, with readily available Spitfires and Tempests this masterpiece of British engineering didn’t stand a chance.

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7. Commonwealth CA-15 ‘Kangaroo’ (1946)

cac-ca-15.jpg

A strong contender for the title of the ultimate piston-engined fighter is the Australian Commonwealth CA-15 ‘Kangaroo’. The RAAF wanted a fighter superior to the highly respected P-51 Mustang and issued an exceptionally demanding requirement. The specification called for a machine with a high rate of climb, excellent manoeuvrability including a high roll rate, and a generous range. The resultant Kangaroo delivered on all promises, and boasted a top speed of 458mph, and a range on internal fuel of 1,150 miles! The addition of drop tanks allowed for 2,540 mile flights. These remarkable figures were attained with the Griffon 61, even more impressive figures would have been achieved if the desired Double Wasp or three-speed Griffon had been fitted. Like the MB5 it was just too late to the party.

 

6. Dassault Mirage 4000

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France’s Mirage 2000 has been described by many fighter pilots as the perfect flying machine. Its ferociously high performance and almost telekinetic responsiveness have left pilots of all nationalities giddy with love and respect for the ‘Electric Cake Slice’. So imagine a ‘2000 with twice the power and you have a pretty spectacular aeroplane; the 4000, which first flew in 1979 was a just such an aircraft, in the same heavyweight class as the F-15 and Su-27. The Mirage 4000 was one of the first aircraft to incorporate carbon fibre composites (to keep weight down)- and was probably the very first to feature a fin made of this advanced material. Thanks to its light structure and powerful engines it had a thrust-to-weight ratio that exceeded 1: 1 in an air-to-air load-out. On its sixth test flight it reached 50,000 feet at Mach 2 in 3 minutes 50 seconds. The 4000 would have been agile, long-ranged and able to haul an impressive arsenal. Its capacious nose could have held an advanced long-range radar. The French air force didn’t want it, Iran — another potential customer- had a revolution, and Saudi Arabia, also on the look-out for a heavy fighter, opted instead for the F-15. Despite its obvious potential, the Mirage 4000 failed to find a customer, which was an enormous kick in the nuts for Dassault, as the company had privately funded the type’s development.

5. IAI Lavi

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In the mid-1970s Israel began work on an indigenous fighter-bomber to replace its A-4s and Mirage derivatives. Development of the very advanced design was aided by US technological assistance. The highly agile canard delta first flew in 1986 and showed great potential. Similar to the F-16 but with greater manoeuvrability at higher speed (though it could had a lower maximum speed of Mach 1.6) and altitudes it was also to be fitted with Israel’s widely respected guided munitions and electronic warfare equipment. But the Lavi project was too expensive for such a small country and it was cancelled in favour of a F-16C order. The degree to which the design influenced China’s J-10 is much disputed but it is generally agreed that Chengdu learned much from Israeli industrial visits. Had the Lavi gone into production it would likely have been a potent multirole aircraft, somewhat like a larger Gripen.

4. Northrop F-20 Tigershark

The F-20 was the ultimate US F-5 derivative. However unlike the twin-engined Tiger II and Freedom Fighter, the F-20 was powered by a single engine. It was intended to serve the needs of US client nations not cleared for fighters as advanced the F-16. The F-20 had similar performance to the F-16 but would have been easier to maintain and cheaper to operate. Flight trials went extremely well and Chuck Yeager became an enthusiastic advocate of the type. When restrictions on F-16 exports relaxed the F-20 lost its raison d’etre. An attempt to provide F-20s for the US aggressor fleet proved unsuccessful perhaps as the General Dynamics and some in the F-16 community feared the F-20 reaching production status. In the end this privately funded fighter fell by the wayside, but did serve to distract attention away from Northrop’s secretive work on the nascent B-2 stealth bomber. The F404 engine that had powered the F-20 did find gainful employment in the light fighter world, going on to power the Saab Gripen, KAI FA-50 and Tejas Mk 1.

3. Lockheed YF-12 (1963)

Until the late 1950s each generation of fighter interceptors was faster than the last. It stood to reason that the Mach 2.3 capable F-106 would be replaced by something even faster: the F-108 Rapier. Somewhat unsurprisingly a fleet of Mach 3 fighters that each weighed twice the weight of a loaded Lancaster bomber proved too expensive to develop. It seemed a shame to waste the expensive radar, missiles and fire control system developed for the F-108 so they were fitted to the only available airframe of comparable performance, the extremely secret Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft. The cost of the war in Vietnam and a less defensive military posture saw the funding for the 93 aircraft USAF wanted scrapped. Elements of this weapon system eventually found their way onto the F-14 Tomcat.

Lockheed_YF-12.jpg

2. North American YF-107

1. Vought XF8U-3 Crusader III (Reader’s choice, suggested by Rowland White)

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As phabulous as the Phantom was, in the F-4, the US Navy may have picked the wrong aircraft. Had they gone for the Crusader III instead of the Phantom, the Vought machine would have made mincemeat of the MiGs over Vietnam. The XF8U-3 first flew on 2 June 1958. The prototype reached Mach 2.39, and demonstrated a zoom ceiling well over 76,000 ft (23,170 m).  Fly-offs against the F4H (the early Phantom), demonstrated that the Crusader III had vastly superior manoeuvrability. John Konrad, Vought’s chief test pilot, noted that it “fly circles around the Phantom II”. Its combat thrust-to-weight ratio (T/W ratio) was almost unity (0.97), an almost unprecedented figure for the 1950s (the F4H had only around 0.86). The F8U-3 program was cancelled with five aircraft built. Not all was wasted however as NASA appreciated the type’s remarkable high altitude performance and took three of the test aircraft for research purposes. These NASA Crusaders routinely intercepted and defeated U.S. Navy Phantom IIs in mock dogfights. The Navy did not enjoy this bullying and asked NASA to stop. Though the XF8U-3 was a better dogfighter, the Phantom had a crew of two, a huge advantage considering how hard it was to operate contemporary radars and missiles, and could carry a weapon-load twice as big. The F-4 also had the two advantage of two engines, a prime consideration for an operator at sea. Still there is a little doubt that the Crusader III would have been a formidable air superiority fighter or interceptor. With the advent of 1970s technology, allowing effective single crew operations, it could have matured into an exceptionally potent fighter. 

Have a look at How to kill a RaptorAn Idiot’s Guide to Chinese Flankers, the 10 worst British military aircraftThe 10 worst French aircraft,  Su-35 versus Typhoon10 Best fighters of World War II top WVR and BVR fighters of today, an interview with a Super Hornet pilot and a Pacifist’s Guide to Warplanes. Was the Spitfire overrated? Want something more bizarre? The Top Ten fictional aircraft is a fascinating read, as is The Strange Story and The Planet Satellite. The Fashion Versus Aircraft Camo is also a real cracker. Those interested in the Cold Way should read A pilot’s guide to flying and fighting in the Lightning. Those feeling less belligerent may enjoy A pilot’s farewell to the Airbus A340. Looking for something more humorous? Have a look at this F-35 satire and ‘Werner Herzog’s Guide to pusher bi-planes or the Ten most boring aircraft. In the mood for something more offensive? Try the NSFW 10 best looking American airplanes, or the same but for Canadians.

 

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“If you have any interest in aviation, you’ll be surprised, entertained and fascinated by Hush-Kit – the world’s best aviation blog”. Rowland White, author of the best-selling ‘Vulcan 607’

I’ve selected the richest juiciest cuts of Hush-Kit, added a huge slab of new unpublished material, and with Unbound, I want to create a beautiful coffee-table book. Pre-order your copy now right here  

 

TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY NOW

From the cocaine, blood and flying scarves of World War One dogfighting to the dark arts of modern air combat, here is an enthralling ode to these brutally exciting killing machines.

The Hush-Kit Book of Warplanes is a beautifully designed, highly visual, collection of the best articles from the fascinating world of military aviation –hand-picked from the highly acclaimed Hush-kit online magazine (and mixed with a heavy punch of new exclusive material). It is packed with a feast of material, ranging from interviews with fighter pilots (including the English Electric Lightning, stealthy F-35B and Mach 3 MiG-25 ‘Foxbat’), to wicked satire, expert historical analysis, top 10s and all manner of things aeronautical, from the site described as:

“the thinking-man’s Top Gear… but for planes”.

The solid well-researched information about aeroplanes is brilliantly combined with an irreverent attitude and real insight into the dangerous romantic world of combat aircraft.

FEATURING

        • Interviews with pilots of the F-14 Tomcat, Mirage, Typhoon, MiG-25, MiG-27, English Electric Lighting, Harrier, F-15, B-52 and many more.
        • Engaging Top (and bottom) 10s including: Greatest fighter aircraft of World War II, Worst British aircraft, Worst Soviet aircraft and many more insanely specific ones.
        • Expert analysis of weapons, tactics and technology.
        • A look into art and culture’s love affair with the aeroplane.
        • Bizarre moments in aviation history.
        • Fascinating insights into exceptionally obscure warplanes.

The book will be a stunning object: an essential addition to the library of anyone with even a passing interest in the high-flying world of warplanes, and featuring first-rate photography and a wealth of new world-class illustrations.

Rewards levels include these packs of specially produced trump cards.

Pre-order your copy now right here  

 

I can only do it with your support.