American Combat Planes of the 20th Century is an incredible reference for anyone who is interested in any American Combat Plane History.   There are 758 pages and 1700 b/w photos in this substantial labor of love by Ray Wagner, who has been passionately researching and writing about aircraft for over 50 years.   Whether you are already familiar with his past works, or just discovering this accomplished author for the first time... This is the book that you've been waiting for!

If you'd like to see the book's   Table of Contents ... Click here.   You can also browse the entire   Index Section   to get an idea of the extensive amount of information that is covered within this book.

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A- 1 Eaton     A- 4 Skyhawk     A- 6 & A- 7     Air Weapons     AV- 8 to A- 10     A- 20 Havoc     A- 22 Martin Maryland     A- 23 Martin Baltimore     A- 24 Douglas     A- 26 Douglas Invader     Attack Planes     B- 2A, F-111, F-117 Stealth    B- 17 Flying Fortress     B- 24 Liberator     B- 25 North American     B- 26 Marauder     B- 29 Superfortress     B- 32 Dominator     B- 35 Flying Wing     B- 36     B- 47 Stratojet     B- 50 Boeing     B- 52 Stratofortress     B- 57 Canberra     B- 58 Hustler     Biplanes     Biplanes, Army Pursuits     Bombers, B- 70 to Stealth     Bombers, First Big     Curtiss Falcon     CO- 1     DH- 4 De Havilland     F3D- Douglas Skyknight    F3H- McDonnell Demon    F4D- 1 Skyray    F4F Grumman Wildcats    F- 4U Corsair    F6F Grumman    F7F Grumman    F7U Vought    F9F G. Cougar    F9F G. Panther    F- 16 Fighting Falcon    F- 84     F- 86 Sabre    F- 89 to F-94    F- 100 to F-108    First Fighters    Flying Boats    GAX    Iraq to Afghanistan    Martin Bombers    Missile Era Fighters    Navy Fighers    Navy Flying Boats    O- 2 Douglas     P- 35 Seversky     P- 36 to 42 Curtiss     P- 38 Lightning    P- 39 Airacobra    P- 40 Line    P- 47 Thunderbolt    P- 51 Mustang Fighter    P- 61 Black Widow    P- 63 Kingcobra    P- 79 to P-81    P- 82 Twin Mustang    SB2C Helldiver    TBF-TBM Avenger    Thomas-Morse    Torpedo Planes    V- 11 Vultee    XB -28    XP -48 / 77   

Fighters For The Missile Era

F/A-18, YF-17

Page 18

The Navy’s Hornets
The Navy’s desire for a multi-mission fighter of low-cost resulted in ther F/A-18 Hornet, which was the only Navy combat plane in production at the century’s end. Although aircraft builders had been asked for proposals in June 1974, it was an Air Force contract that actually produced such a fighter. McDONNELL DOUGLAS F/A-18A of VFA-131

Northrop received an Air Force contract on April 13, 1972, for two YF-17 prototypes to compete against the General Dynamic YF-16 for the lightweight fighter contract. Developed from an earlier design study called the P-530 Cobra, Northrop’s project differed from the YF-16 in having two engines and twin vertical fins.

Powered by new General Electric YJ101 turbojets, the YF-17 was also armed with an M61 and Sidewinders, and had five stores pylons besides the wingtip missile stations. The first example flew on June 9, 1974, and claimed to be the first U.S. aircraft to fly supersonic in level flight without afterburner, while the second YF-17 flew on August 21.

After learning that the Air Force contract was lost, Northrop focused on the Navy’s need for a lightweight fighter to supplement the F-14. Since Northrop‘s Haw­thorne plant lacked experience with carrier-based aircraft, they joined with McDonnell Douglas on October 7, 1974, to jointly prepare a Navy fighter. The St. Louis factory would build the Navy version, and Northrop would work out a land-based variant for NATO. The second YF-17 was turned over to the Navy for thorough testing.

The Navy did not really want to follow the Air Force’s lead anyway, and preferred a twin-engine configuration. Adapting the YF-17 to Navy requirements involved increases in fuel load and weapons provisions that added over 10,000 pounds to the weight, and required more wing area. Despite the added weight, speed was to remain about Mach 1.8, and combat radius 460 miles. On May 2, 1975, the Navy announced its selection of that design as the F-14’s low-cost counterpart, and a January 22, 1976, letter contract provided for 11 F-18 developmental aircraft, including two two-seat trainers.

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