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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fighter planes-Basics

What are fighter planes?


Fighter planes are planes designed for war. There are many types of fighter aircraft. they are used for air-to-air combat, bombing, fighter-bomber,etc. there are many types of fighters planes. there was a spur of fighter development in the World Wars. The nations made more advanced fighters than their enemies to gain air superiority. the 2 decades between the wars showed the technology of many new inventions such as metal bodies, closed cockpit, etc. On this page, you can learn more about fighters and their many uses.



Fighter aircraft



fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets by dropping bombs. The hallmarks of a fighter are its small size, speed and maneuverability.
Many fighters have secondary ground-attack capabilities, and some are dual-roled as fighter-bombers. Consequently, the term "fighter" is sometimes extended colloquially to include dedicated ground-attack aircraft.
Fighters are the primary means by which armed forces gain air superiority over their opponents in battle. Since at least World War II, achieving and maintaining this air superiority has been a key component of victory in warfare, particularly conventional warfare (as opposed to guerrilla warfare). The purchase, training and maintenance of a fighter fleet therefore consumes a substantial proportion of the defense budgets of modern armed forces. 





Introduction

F-16 Fighting Falcon.ogv
F-16 Fighting Falcon is a fighter aircraft
Fighters were developed in response to the fledgling use of aircraft and dirigibles in World War I for reconnaissance and ground-attack roles. Early fighters were very small and lightly armed by later standards, and were mostly biplanes (planes with two wings). As aerial warfare became increasingly important, so did control of the airspace. By World War II, fighters were predominantly all-metal monoplanes with wing-mounted batteries of cannons or machine guns. By the end of the war, turbojet engines were already beginning to replace piston engines as the means of propulsion, and increasingly sophisticated refinements to armament were already appearing.
Modern jet fighters are predominantly powered by one or two turbofan engines, and are equipped with a radar as the primary method of target acquisition. Armament consists primarily of air-to-air missiles (from as few as two on some lightweight day fighters such at the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the MiG-21 to as many as eight or twelve on air superiority fighters like the Sukhoi Su-27 orbBoeing F-15 Eagle), with a cannon as backup armament (typically between 20 and 30 mm in caliber); however, they can also employ air-to-surface missiles, as well as guided and unguided bombs.

Piston engine fighters


Vickers F.B.5 Gunbus
The word "fighter" was first used to describe a two-seater aircraft with sufficient lift to carry a machine gun and its operator as well as the pilot. The first such "fighters" belonged to the "gunbus" series of experimental gun carriers of the British Vickers company which culminated in the Vickers F.B.5 Gunbus of 1914. The main drawback of this type of aircraft was its lack of speed. It was quickly realized that an aircraft intended to destroy its kind in the air needed at least to be fast enough to catch its quarry.
Fortunately another type of military aircraft already existed, which was to form the basis for an effective "fighter" in the modern sense of the word. It was based on the small fast aircraft developed before the war for such air races as the Gordon Bennett Cup and Schneider Trophy. The military scout airplane was not expected to be able to carry serious armament, but rather to rely on its speed to be able to reach the location it was required to "scout" or reconnoiter and then return quickly to report – while at the same time making itself a difficult target for anti-aircraft artillery or enemy gun-carrying aircraft. British scout aircraft in this sense included the Sopwith Tabloid and Bristol Scout; French equivalents included the light, fast Morane-Saulnier N.
In practice, soon after the actual commencement of the war, the pilots of small scout aircraft began to arm themselves with pistols, carbines,grenades, and an assortment of improvised weapons with which to attack enemy aircraft. It was inevitable that sooner or later means of effectively arming "scouts" would be devised. One method was to build a "pusher" scout such as the Airco DH.2, with the propeller mounted behind the pilot. The main drawback was that the high drag of a pusher type's tail structure meant that it was bound to be slower than an otherwise similar "tractor" aircraft.
Airco DH.2 "pusher" scout
Only two configuration options were practical initially for tractor aircraft. One involved having a second crew member added behind the pilot to aim and fire a swivel-mounted machine gun at enemy airplanes. However, this limited the area of coverage chiefly to the rear hemisphere, and the inability to effectively coordinate the pilot's maneuvering with the gunner's aiming, which reduced the accuracy and efficacy of the gunnery. This option was chiefly employed as a defensive measure on two seater reconnaissance aircraft from 1915 on. The alternative configuration mounted a gun on the upper wing to fire over the propeller arc. While more effective for offensive combat, since the pilot could move and aim the guns as a unit, this placement made determining the proper aim point more difficult. Furthermore, this location made it nearly impossible for a pilot to maneuver his aircraft and have access to the gun's breech – a very important consideration, given the tendency of early machine guns to jam – hence this was a stopgap solution. Nevertheless, a machine gun firing over the propeller arc did have some advantages, and was to remain in service from 1915 (Nieuport 11) until 1918 (Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5). The British Foster mounting was specifically designed for this kind of application.
A captured Morane-Saulnier Type L with German insignia, similar to the type downed by Kurt Wintgens on 1 July 1915
The need to arm a tractor scout with a forward-firing gun whose bullets passed through the propeller arc was evident even before the outbreak of war, and its approach motivated inventors in both France and Germany to devise a practical synchronization gear that could time the firing of the individual rounds to when the propeller was not in the way. Franz Schneider, a Swiss engineer, had patented such a device in Germany in 1913, but his original work was not followed up. French aircraft designer Raymond Saulnier patented a practical device in April 1914, but trials were unsuccessful because of the propensity of the machine gun employed to hang fire due to unreliable ammunition.
In December 1914, French aviator Roland Garros asked Saulnier to install his synchronization gear on Garros' Morane-Saulnier Type L. Unfortunately the gas-operated Hotchkiss machine gun had a firing cycle which caused the bullet to leave the weapon too late to effectively and consistently synchronize the gunfire with a spinning propeller. Because of this, the propeller blades were armored, and Garros' mechanic, Jules Hue, fitted metal wedges to the blades to protect the pilot from ricochets. Garros' modified monoplane was first flown in March 1915 and he began combat operations soon thereafter. Firing 8 mm (.323 in) solid copper bullets, Garros scored three victories in three weeks before he himself was shot down on 18 April and his airplane – along with its synchronization gear and propeller – was captured by the Germans.
The actual aircraft used by Wintgens in his pioneering aerial engagement, his Fokker M.5K/MG with IdFlieg military serial number "E.5/15", as it appeared at the time of the engagement.
However, the synchronization gear (called the Stangensteuerung in German, for "pushrod control system") devised by the engineers of Anthony Fokker's firm was the first gear to attract official sponsorship, and this would make the pioneering Fokker Eindecker monoplane a feared name over the Western Front, despite its being an adaptation of an obsolete pre-war French Morane-Saulnier racing airplane, with a mediocre performance and poor flight characteristics. The first victory for the Eindecker came on 1 July 1915, when Leutnant Kurt Wintgens, flying with theFeldflieger Abteilung 6 unit on the Western Front, forced down a Morane-Saulnier Type L two-seat "parasol" monoplane just east of Luneville. Wintgens' aircraft, one of the five Fokker M.5K/MG production prototype examples of the Eindecker, was armed with a synchronized, air-cooled aviation version of the Parabellum MG14 machine gun, which did not require armored propellers. In some respects, this was the first "true" fighter victory of military aviation history.
German Fokker Triplanes of Jasta 26 in World War I
The success of the Eindecker kicked off a competitive cycle of improvement among the combatants, building ever more capable single-seat fighters. The Albatros D.I of late 1916, designed by Robert Thelen, set the classic pattern followed by almost all such aircraft for about twenty years. Like the D.I, they were biplanes (only very occasionally monoplanes or triplanes). The strong box structure of the biplane wing allowed for a rigid wing that afforded accurate lateral control, which was essential for fighter-type maneuvers. They had a single crew member, who flew the aircraft and also operated its armament. They were armed with two Maxim-type machine guns – which had proven much easier to synchronize than other types – firing through the propeller arc. The gun breeches were typically right in front of the pilot's face. This had obvious implications in case of accidents, but enabled jams (to which Maxim-type machine guns always remained liable) to be cleared in flight and made aiming much easier.
Modern reproduction of the Fokker Dr.I, the "Red Baron's" triplane, at the ILA 2006 air show
The use of metal in fighter aircraft was pioneered in World War I by Germany, as Anthony Fokker used chrome-molybdenum steel tubing (a close chemical cousin to stainless steel) for the fuselage structure of all his fighter designs, and the innovative German engineer Hugo Junkers developed two all-metal, single-seat fighter monoplane designs with cantilever wings: the strictly experimental Junkers J 2 private-venture aircraft, made with steel, and some forty examples of the Junkers D.I, made with corrugated duralumin, all based on his experience in creating the pioneering Junkers J 1 all-metal airframe technology demonstration aircraft of late 1915.
A Sopwith Camel 2F1 biplane at the Imperial War Museum in London
As collective combat experience grew, the more successful pilots such as Oswald Boelcke, Max Immelmann, and Edward Mannock developed innovative tactical formations and maneuvers to enhance their air units' combat effectiveness and accelerate the learning – and increase the expected lifespan – of newer pilots reaching the front lines.
Allied and – until 1918 – German pilots of World War I were not equipped with parachutes, so most cases of an aircraft catching fire, or structurally breaking up in flight were fatal. Parachutes were well-developed by 1918, and were adopted by the German flying services during the course of that year (the famous "Red Baron" was wearing one when he was killed), but the allied command continued to oppose their use, on various grounds.
In April 1917, the average life expectancy of a British pilot on the Western Front was 93 flying hours, or about three weeks of active service. In all, more than 50,000 airmen from both sides died during the war.


Interwar period (1919–38)

Fighter development slowed between the wars, with the most significant change coming late in the period, when the classic World War I type machines started to give way to metal monocoque or semi-monocoque monoplanes, with cantilever wing structures. Given limited defense budgets, air forces tended to be conservative in their aircraft purchases, and biplanes remained popular with pilots because of their agility. Designs such as the Gloster Gladiator, Fiat CR.42, and Polikarpov I-15 were common even in the late 1930s, and many were still in service as late as 1942. Up until the mid-1930s, the vast majority of fighter aircraft remained fabric-covered biplanes.
An early monoplane fighter: the Boeing P-26 Peashooter which first flew in 1932
Fighter armament eventually began to be mounted inside the wings, outside the arc of the propeller, though most designs retained two synchronized machine-guns above the engine (which were considered more accurate). Rifle-caliber guns were the norm, with .50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns and 20 mm cannons deemed "overkill." Considering that many aircraft were constructed similarly to World War I designs (albeit with aluminum frames), it was not considered unreasonable to use World War I-style armament to counter them. There was insufficient aerial combat during most of the period to disprove this notion.
The rotary engine, popular during World War I, quickly disappeared, replaced chiefly by the stationary radial engine. Aircraft engines increased in power several-fold over the period, going from a typical 180 hp (130 kW) in the 1918 Fokker D.VII to 900 hp (670 kW) in the 1938 Curtiss P-36. The debate between the sleek in-line engines versus the more reliable radial models continued, with naval air forces preferring the radial engines, and land-based forces often choosing in-line units. Radial designs did not require a separate (and vulnerable) cooling system, but had increased drag. In-line engines often had a better power-to-weight ratio, but there were radial engines that kept working even after having suffered significant battle damage.
Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstörer "heavy fighter"
Some air forces experimented with "heavy fighters" (called "destroyers" by the Germans). These were larger, usually two-engined aircraft, sometimes adaptations of light or medium bomber types. Such designs typically had greater internal fuel capacity (thus longer range) and heavier armament than their single-engine counterparts. In combat, they proved ungainly and vulnerable to more nimble single-engine fighters.
The primary driver of fighter innovation, right up to the period of rapid rearmament in the late thirties, were not military budgets, but civilian aircraft races. Aircraft designed for these races pioneered innovations like streamlining and more powerful engines that would find their way into the fighters of World War II.
At the very end of the inter-war period came the Spanish Civil War. This was just the opportunity the German Luftwaffe, Italian Regia Aeronautica, and the Soviet Union's Red Air Force needed to test their latest aircraft designs. Each party sent several aircraft to back their side in the conflict. In the dogfights over Spain, the latest Messerschmitt fighters (Bf 109) did well, as did the Soviet Polikar pov I-16. The German design, however, had considerable room for development and the lessons learned in Spain led to greatly improved models in World War II. The Russians, whose side lost in the conflict, nonetheless determined that their planes were sufficient for their immediate needs. I-16s were later slaughtered en masse by these improved German models in World War II, although they remained the most common Soviet front-line fighter until well into 1942. For their part, the Italians were satisfied with the performance of their Fiat CR.42 biplanes, and being short on funds, continued with this design even though it was obsolete.
The Spanish Civil War also provided an opportunity for updating fighter tactics. One of the innovations to result from the aerial warfare experience this conflict provided was the development of the "finger-four" formation by the German pilot Werner Mölders. Each fighter squadron (German: Staffel) was divided into several flights (Schwärme) of four aircraft. Each Schwarm was divided into two Rotten which was a pair of aircraft. Each Rotte was composed of a leader and a wingman. This flexible formation allowed the pilots to maintain greater situational awareness, and the two Rotten could split up at any time and attack on their own. The finger-four would become widely adopted as the fundamental tactical formation over the course of World War II.


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For mare information, please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fighter_aircraft .

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