The Cold War must surely be one of the most fascinating periods in the history of military aviation. The number of aircraft produced during this period of hostilities is breathtaking, with some of the most incredible aircraft the world has ever seen being part of this period. The Soviet Union and the West all produced quite incredible flying machines, but of course not all of them were game changers.
Many of the planes of the time were absolute flops. Either they didn’t live up to their specifications, or they were too complicated, or they sucked so badly that they barely lasted five years in service. And it can range from jet planes to helicopters. The Cold War saw all kinds of aircraft take flight, and this list will feature some of the best, as well as some that just couldn’t live up to their original promise.
ten Game Changer – Avro Vulcan
The British Avro Vulcan first flew in 1952, and its revolutionary delta wing gave it unrivaled maneuverability over rival bombers. The Vulcan was as nimble as some fighters, and its four Olympus engines gave the plane its iconic “Vulcan Howl”.
The Vulcan was initially part of the V-Force nuclear deterrent, before transitioning to a low-level bombing role, and it played a prominent role in the Falklands War.
9 Game Changer – MiG-25 Foxbat
While the Soviet MiG-25 was not as nimble as America initially feared, its top speed of Mach 3.0 was indeed a game-changer.
It stunned America when it was first seen in 1967, and what it also did was push America to develop the F-15 concept with more capabilities than they ever had. originally planned it. The MiG-25 would eventually evolve into the MiG-31 Foxhound.
8 Game Changer – F-4 Phantom
The F-4 Phantom rose to fame during the Vietnam War. It became one of the most successful fighter-bombers in the world and helped the United States develop its tactics to fight Vietnamese MiG-21s and ’17s.
It may also have been the aircraft that made American officials realize that a gun was necessary in close dogfights despite the advent of missiles, perhaps changing the direction in which aerial combat was headed. himself.
seven Game Changer – BAC TSR.2
The TSR2 may never have entered service, but it was arguably the pinnacle of British aviation. A tactical attack and reconnaissance aircraft, hence its name, the TSR2 was designed to deliver a low-level nuclear weapon into the heart of the Soviet Union at Mach 2.
Only the sinkhole of British politics and a dispute over its development cost meant that this incredible jet would never enter service. But his whole story is really fascinating.
6 Game changer – MiG-21
At the time of the introduction of the MiG-21s, probably the most advanced Soviet fighter was the MiG-17. The MiG-21 however, in the right hands, was a thorn in the side of American pilots during the Vietnam War. It was fast, agile, and had a cannon to match its missile technology.
The MiG-21 is still in service with some air weapons today, showing the versatility and longevity of the design.
5 Barely Taken Off – Tu-144
Although the Tu-144 was not a military aircraft, it was a product of the Soviet Union. Essentially a version of the Concorde created by espionage, the ‘144 was far inferior to its Anglo-French rival.
It was louder, had a less sophisticated wing, and was horribly unreliable. It was also unable to cruise at supersonic speeds like the Concorde, and a crash at the 1973 Paris Air Show sealed the fate of the Tu-144.
4 Barely Lifted – Vickers Valiant
The Valiant was the first of three V-Bombers which, including Vulcan and Victor, was the simplest model. It was perfectly suited to its role as a high-level nuclear bomber. However, when V-Force switched to low-level bombing, cracks in the Valiant’s wing spars appeared.
This meant that the entire fleet was retired from service after just 10 years. Annoyingly, a low-level capable black-colored B2 prototype had been built and shown very well in testing, but for some reason the Air Ministry was not interested.
3 Barley took off – F-11 Tiger
The F-11 Tiger was designed as a single-seat supersonic fighter aircraft, but only saw service for five years in that role. Its performance was not as good as that of the newer F-8 Crusader, its J65 was unreliable, and the aircraft’s endurance was not good enough for its fighter role.
Thus, the Crusader will replace the Tiger which flew until 1968 as a demonstration aircraft for the Blue Angel, and until 1967 as a training aircraft.
2 Barely Taken Off – Bartini Beriev VVA-14
The VVA-14 was designed by Robert Bartini. It was actually a vertical take-off, amphibious aircraft that could also use ground effect. It was supposed to take on the US Navy’s Polaris submarines, but it had multiple flaws.
His inflatable pontoons were ineffective, so he had to switch to rigid pontoons. Vertical take-off engines proved ineffective and eventually the project was abandoned after Bartini’s death.
1 Barely Taken Off – Mil V-12
The strange V12 was actually a very capable lifting helicopter, designed to transport Soviet nuclear weapons to secure and hidden forest locations. The problem was that the V12 arrived too late after its original requirement had been made, and then the advent of American spy satellites meant that Soviet missile seats would be identified much more easily than with something like a U-spy plane. 2.
The missiles were eventually integrated into dedicated trucks that could quite easily be hidden, and the V12 program was cancelled. Remarkably, both prototypes survive to this day.
The Russians built their own supersonic airliner, with the simple purpose of beating the west through the air.
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