Oshkosh AirVenture 2002 Post WW2 Aircraft

The F-86 Sabre was the first swept-wing jet fighter to fly with the United States Air Force.   It had very good performance for the time, going supersonic in a shallow dive just a few weeks after Chuck Yeager became the first man to break the sound barrier, flying the rocket propelled X1.   Sabres were pitted against MiG-15s during the Korean war; the MiG could outclimb the Sabre, but the Sabre was faster in a dive and had better horizontal maneuverability.   Overall, some people consider the MiG slightly superior to the Sabre, but because of better pilot training the Americans achieved a better than 8-to-1 kill ratio against the communist pilots.   Ironically, both aircraft were originally powered by the same jet engine, the British designed Nene.

F86 Sabre banking  (click here to open a new window with this photo in computer wallpaper format)

OK, so what's a world war two DC-3 Dakota doing in the post world war two highlights page?   Well, for starters this is a military version, so it's not a DC-3, it's a C-47.   And furthermore, it's a Vietnam era AC-47 "Spooky" gunship - the "A" standing for "attack".   Fifty three C-47s were converted to AC-47s during the Vietnam war, each armed with three 7.62mm gatling guns.   They would circle around an enemy position and rain down fire against it.   Crews and forces on the ground called the AC-47s "Spooky" or "Puff the Magic Dragon".

Vietnam era AC47 'Spooky' gunship  (click here for a wallpaper version of this photo)

The Grumman OV-1 Mohawk is another Vietnam era aircraft.   Designed as an armoured battlefield surveillance aircraft, it was eventually equipped to carry guns and rockets.   It's unusual to have an army aircraft built by Grumman, since they normally build naval aircraft; however the original intention was for both the army and the marines to be equipped with Mohawks.

OV-1 Mohawk  (click here for a wallpaper version of this photo)

Here's another Grumman, the S-2 Tracker.   The tailhook at the rear gives the Tracker away as a carrier-borne aircraft.   Originally designed as a submarine hunter killer (hence the name Tracker), it also served as a cargo plane bringing people, mail and supplies onto aircraft carriers at sea.

S2 Tracker taking off

The AV-8B Harrier is the United States marine corps' favorite aircraft, valued for its vertical take-off and landing capabilities and heavy payload.   The Harrier's ability to do vertical or short take-offs and landings also allows it to operate from marine corp aircraft carriers, which are much smaller than the navy equivalents.   This is one of the few aircraft in the American armed forces which was developed overseas, in this case by the British.   The AV-8B is a significantly heavier and more capable version of the original British Harrier, which was used in both fighter and attack configurations.   The AV-8B is a regular guest at Oshkosh, but parents should be warned that its ear-splitting performance might be a bit too much for their children!

AV8B Harrier hovering
The F-15 Eagle is perhaps the world's best fighter aircraft, rivalled only by Russian fighters like the MiG-29 "Fulcrum" and the Su-27 Flanker or Su-35 Super Flanker.
F15 Eagle taking off

The Northrop B-2 "Spirit" stealth bomber has to be one of the most interesting aircraft on the planet.   It's apparently futuristic looks are misleading, however, since it's derived from a very similar looking flying wing bomber which Northrop had in the air in 1946!   The story is explained in more detailed in this page about a B-2 flying at the Frederick Airshow of 2002, together with some B-2 closeups at the same show.

B2 'Spirit' stealth bomber