Friday pictures: Eurofighter Typhoon

Taken last Saturday at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT), this Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon image by Flickr user Andy in Oxford is simply tremendous. I must admit that the Typhoon leaves me cold most of the time – I do not know why. Yet the combination of vapor and afterburner and sunlight on the dark sky here makes for a powerful, dynamic representation of this formidable fighter. My thanks to Andy for the many, many terrific images found in his Flickr photostream.

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

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Friday pictures: Folland Gnat

Continued apologies for how erratic these have become. I resume the series today for the simple reason that I came across a terrific shot of a wonderful plane that is hardly seen anymore, making it a perfect candidate for the series. I try hard to favor airplanes here that follow the “middle school study hall rule” (examples here, here, and here), and for whatever reason I do seem to keep returning to Britain’s early jets. I suspect my early exposure to my father’s Dinky Supermarine Swift, Hawker Hunter, and Gloster Javelin explain that.

With no further ado, then, here is this week’s wonderful shot by Flick photographer andys1616.

gnat

For more information on the Gnat, please start here.

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

Friday pictures: RAAF F-111 Aardvark

In keeping with some recent installments that focus on the pure form of a plane, today’s update captures a very clean Royal Australian Air Force/General Dynamics F-111C Aardvark. The Aardvark dates to the TFX competition of 1961. Kennedy’s Defense Secretary Robert McNamara sought to replace a variety of Air Force and Navy jets with one versatile design. This is the same illusion America and her allies appear to be chasing today with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, although the TFX sought to encompass an even broader set of roles than the F-35 aims for today. The resulting Air Force variants entered service in 1968 as a part of a deployment called Combat Lancer. After severe teething problems with many systems, chief among them the Pratt & Whitney TF30 engine, the F-111 ultimately emerged as a very capable bomber, serving in the role of deep-penetration interdiction. Its substantial payload combined with very high speed to make it a formidable weapon, and it next saw action against Libya in 1986 (as part of El Dorado Canyon) and Iraq (in Desert Storm). The USAF retired the type in 1998. As a naval fighter, the F-111B was a disappointment, although portions of the F-111B program were repackaged as part of the far more successful Grumman F-14 Tomcat.

Australia ordered two-dozen F-111C bombers in 1963, took delivery in 1968, and had to wait until 1973 to see them in service due to unanticipated structural issues. Since 1973, the Australian F-111 force has seen an additional four airframes delivered in 1982, while 18 further F-111G aircraft were delivered in 1994. In that time, the F-111 has never seen combat in Australian service. Wing cracks in the fleet have triggered its planned retirement in 2010, although there is a great deal of politics surrounding this decision (including the RAAF decision to purchase the F-18 as a stopgap until the F-35 is ready).

Operational histories aside, the swing-wing F-111 has always looked like a fast jet – with the lines I associate with a middle schooler’s study hall doodles. In this picture by flickr user obLiterated, to whom I extend my thanks for this handsome shot, we see an Aardvark banking hard during a tight left turn, afterburners engaged. Note the long-span wings. Just about perfection.

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If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

Friday pictures: Shades of a Raptor

Last week I broke custom and chose a picture of a Spitfire on the ground. I will return to aerial shots, but not until next week. We will remain on the ground for another week with this week’s selection. It has been three months since I last selected the F-22 for this series, and that has taken discipline as this powerful plane lends itself to a lot of wonderful pictures that can be found on Flickr. At some point I will highlight some of those shots, but this week I am drawn to an image that approaches a Raptor as still life.

As usual, I want to make sure to extend my thanks to the photographer, Scott Lowe, and encourage you to follow the links and enjoy his other work, which includes several other pictures taken in the same series.

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

Friday pictures: South African Lightnings

Earlier this month, Douglas Barrie wrote a post on Ares, my favorite blog these days, about the English Electric Lightning receiving an Engineering Heritage Award (PDF) by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. As an insular American plane buff, I gave far too little time thinking about the Lightning. Barrie makes the claim, which may be true and may not be true, that the Lightning was “epitome of the single-role aircraft.” Surely the Lockheed Blackbirds vie for such a title, but I see his point. English Electric built 339 of these planes, all with their unique over-under engine layout. A decent summary of Lightning information is on Wikipedia, but there are many, many web sites devoted to this plane, which clearly has a very loyal group of enthusiasts preserving its memories. (As an aside, as an example of insular buffs, the press release for the above award refers to the F-35 Lightning II as the namesake of the English Electric craft, when everyone knows the Lockheed plane is named after its forebear the P-38. Silly Brits.)

Way down in South Africa,  a recent airshow saw two flying Lightnings performing, and I am sure they put on an amazing show. I only know about it through the wonder of Flickr’s myriad photographers, and this week saw a wonderful series of pictures come appear. Marked with sponsorship decals for Vodacom Business, these planes look simply fabulous, and my hat is off to all the sponsors who have put them in the air. A certain amount of googling suggests that the return to flight was in 2004, but I cannot pin that down for sure. No matter – Friday pictures are about aeronautic eye candy, so with no further ado, and thanks to silver~halide, here are this week’s shots (shots below are thumbnails; please follow the link to the photographer to see larger images).

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured her

Friday pictures: F-86 & MiG-15

Fifty-eight years ago, the North American F-86 Sabre and the Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-15 fought remorselessly for control of Korea’s skies, giving no quarter as they tangled in MiG Alley. Even though the skies over the Yalu River remain unwelcome to American aircraft today, times have changed sufficiently that these former foes now find themselves reunited in far more peaceful circumstances. I think it’s useful, as we look at the uncertainty in the world around us, to realize that the passage of two generations is enough time to witness profound changes in the world, and sometimes it’s change for the good.

Regardless of such thoughts, the two planes in this week’s picture are timeless examples of the first jet vs. jet combat ever. It is wonderful to see them in such perfect condition, and my thanks to Mark Von Raesfeld for his wonderful photography. As always, follow the link for a larger view.

F-86 Sabre & MiG-15 at Chino
F-86 Sabre & MiG-15 at Chino

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.