Five airplanes

So, Kim du Toit wants to know what your five favorite cars are.  I say fie on you Kim, as much fun as cars are, aircraft are much cooler.  I’m sure that Scully and my brother will agree with me on the inherent superiority of aircraft in the aesthetics department over cars.  So, what are your five favorite airplanes, and why?  Here are mine, from 5th to 1st.

5.  The de Havilland Mosquito – AKA “The Wooden Wonder”.  It was a fantastic aircraft, that excelled at almost every role it was asked to perform.  The graceful lines soften the appearance, and yet it exudes a subtle sense of menace; as if it’s saying “I’m pretty, but I’m dangerous”.  The Mosquito is that woman in the old Bogart films that you knew was nothing but trouble, but you couldn’t stay away.

4.  SPAD S. XIII – For all the grace that the Mosquito has, the SPAD has none.  What earned it a fondness in my heart was not its appearance, but rather its performance.  Flown with skill by Eddie Rickenbacker in World War I, the SPAD had a reputation as being able to dive away “like a brick on rails”.  Not the most maneuverable fighter of the war, the SPAD was still an excellent aircraft in the hands of a skilled pilot.

3.  The P-39 Airacobra – Not on the list for its combat performance, the Airacobra is one of those weird planes that I thought was awesome as a kid, and have maintained a partial fascination with since that time.  It just think it’s a neat looking aircraft, although the guy who put a door on a plane should probably have been fired.

2.  F-4 Phantom II –  In addition to being the only jet on this list, the Phantom gets its number spot simply for being the ugly duckling at the ball.  And yet this huge turkey of a jet was used both by the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds as a demonstration aircraft.  It was a big beasty, but like the Airacobra, I’ve got a sickness for it.  It was the first plane I ever saw fly at an airshow, and when I was a kid, I had a huge poster of it on my wall.

1.  F-82 Twin Mustang – What can I say?  I like it.  I think that it’s a gorgeous aircraft, that never really got to see it’s day in combat.  It never saw use in World War II, which I think is too bad, because it would have torn up the Japanese fighters it would have faced.  The one feather in the cap of the F-82 is that it got the first three air-to-air kills of the Korean war, and eventually destroyed a total of 20 aircraft (sixteen on the ground).  It was the last piston engine fighter to be operated by the Strategic Air Command.  Sadly, there are no currently operational F-82s left in the country.  Personally, I think it would be awesome if some homebuilder with a bug up his fanny took a pair of Titan Mustangs…well, you get the idea.

So pretty.


  1. Man, I love planes as much as boomsticks. The P-39 is an old favorite. I built a model of one when I was a kid, and used to groove on the novelty of the rear engine and the 37mm gun. The F-4 brings back memories. As a young Marine I spent some time at (then) MCAS Kaneohe Bay, HI (it’s now MCB Hawaii). VMFA 212 still flew F-4’s (this was ’88; I believe they were the last active duty Marine squadron to do so) so I got to see and hear those bad boys early and often.

  2. You may have something there with that Titan Twin Mustang idea. Hmm. You could maybe even do it cheaper with a pair of Loehle 5151 Mustang kits. Considering that we’ll probably never see a replica P-61, this might be my new favorite crazy replica idea concept.

  3. In no particular order:

    Mosquito Fighter/Bomber
    A-10 Warthog (I really like ground attack aircraft for some reason.)
    PBY Catalina
    Flying Pancake
    Zeppelins (Maybe it’s not a “plane”, but it’s still an aircraft!)

  4. Ground Attack Category:
    5) A-1D Skyraider
    4) A-26 Marauder
    3) DeHavilland Mosquito
    2) Hawker Typhoon
    1) A-10 Warthog

    Air Superiority
    5) Supermarine Spitfire MkV
    3)Me 262 (plus it looks really cool!)
    2) P-51D Mustang (which isn’t as pretty, but is a better plane)
    1) Albatross V, especially von Richtofen’s red one

  5. Common thread among my fav’s is that they all look fast even parked on the ramp. In no particular order…

    Northrop T-38/F-5
    Lockheed SR-71
    Cessna 310
    Piper Aerostar
    Boeing 727

  6. F4U Marine Corsair
    B17 Heavy Bomber
    P-38 Lightning
    P-40 Warbird
    P-51 Mustang

    I know, I can’t count, but I can’t cut any of those out.

    No particular order after the B-17 in first place, due only for its unprecedented ability to absorb punishment and still bring its crew home.

  7. Fronm 5th to first.

    The Boeing 727. I only flew it briefly but it was like one of those summer romances you remember 25 years later.

    The P-51 Mustang.

    The A-10 Warthog

    The T-39 which I have a bunch of PIC time in. It’s a tank that can do ballet.

    The F4U Corsair – pure sex. . that’s all I can say.

  8. 5. Avro Vulcan – Just look at that monster delta.
    4. Hawker Hunter – From the short era of subsonic jet fighters, but a graceful, elegant shape.
    3. Boeing B-47 Stratojet – Completely revolutionary, and are there any pictures more awesome than of these doing water-injected, RATO boosted takeoffs?
    2. Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird – Still looks futuristic 40 years later. In a good way.
    1. Hawker Sea Fury – Just the ultimate piston engined fighter. Fast, menacing, beautiful.

  9. In no particular order:
    A-10 Warthog; form follows function.
    Mitsubishi J7W1 Shindan; OK I like the unconventional.
    T-37 Scorpion; a two-seat sports car with wings
    B-70 Valkrye; most effective airplane we never built. It cost the Russkies a fortune to counteract it.

  10. P-51 Mustang and the Spitfire were not machines, they were art objects!

    I always thought the AD Sykraider series were totally cool, as was the Crusader.

    Yes, I agree with the above, the Corsair was also downright sexy.

    P-40 looked like what a fighter should look like, especially with the radiator intake positioned perfectly to accomodate the shark mouth paint job.

    B-52’s are totally cool in my book. Not as a beauty but as a hulking menace.

    OK, I’ve gone beyond 5, but that’s what I like.

  11. 5. DC-3 easy to fly, forgiving, damn good weapons platform (Puff)

    4. P-47 Butt ugly, airborne tank, but brought a lot of folks home

    3. AD-1 Built as a one way nuclear bomber, performed superbly as CAS in Nam (Sandy)

    2. F-4 Phantom II, a refrigerator with wings, negative glide ratio, did it all- interception, CAS, pinpoint bombing, and ugly as hell too!

    1. P-3 Orion 8700 hours in them and they always got me home 🙂

  12. The boring old DC3. Not fast, not dangerous, it just did so much to save and then open up the world in so many ways. There has to be room for the work horse on anyone’s list.

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