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Old 9th May 2019, 07:51 AM   #1
3point14
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Planes you'd never heard of

I have an odd an unexplained fascination with military aircraft. I'm not really sure why. I think it's because they tend to be cutting edge and because I'm fascinated with the reasons they haven't really become any faster in the last 50 years or so.

Preamble aside, I simply wasn't aware that this thing (nearly) existed and it's one of the most stunning airplanes I've ever seen.

I give you, the Martin P6M SeaMaster

http://www.aviation-history.com/martin/p6m-8a.jpg

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...ight_c1955.jpg

Look at it!!!



If anyone wants to tell me about any others of which I may be unaware, that'd be cool
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Old 9th May 2019, 07:56 AM   #2
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I'll try to think of some.

Meanwhile seaplanes are fascinating. For a brief period after the invention of airplanes and before the development of aircraft carriers and long range jets, seaplanes were the perfect tool for the perfect job.

But they're way less efficient than anything that lands on dry ground with wheels, so as soon as carriers came along, seaplanes became almost entirely obsolete. Outside a few very limited applications.
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Old 9th May 2019, 08:00 AM   #3
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It's a bit difficult to know which rare aircraft you've already heard of, but the Saunders Roe SR A/1 is extremely cool in very much the same way.

Dave
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Old 9th May 2019, 08:10 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
It's a bit difficult to know which rare aircraft you've already heard of, but the Saunders Roe SR A/1 is extremely cool in very much the same way.

Dave
What's cool for me about this plane is that, according to that wikipedia page, the first two Martin-Baker ejection seats were fitted in them.
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Old 9th May 2019, 08:10 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
It's a bit difficult to know which rare aircraft you've already heard of,
Yeah, I thought that. I really don't mind looking at planes I've seen before.


Quote:
but the Saunders Roe SR A/1 is extremely cool in very much the same way.

Dave
I like that one. As The Prestige says, seaplanes are very cool. It's just a shame they never really found a use.
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Old 9th May 2019, 08:45 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Yeah, I thought that. I really don't mind looking at planes I've seen before.




I like that one. As The Prestige says, seaplanes are very cool. It's just a shame they never really found a use.
Don't get me wrong: Seaplanes absolutely found a use. They were extremely useful. It's just that the steady march of progress gave them a very small window in history.

Same with high-altitude strategic bombers. We were all set to have whole generations of high-flying, fast-moving bombers. Planes like the XB-70 Valkyrie and beyond, that would apply and build on what we'd learned from planes like the SR-71 and the X-15. Then advances in rocketry, both for anti-air missiles and ballistic missiles, made that whole category of aircraft obsolete.

I would love the XB-70 Valkyrie so much, if it weren't so pragmatically Not What Is Needed.
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Old 9th May 2019, 08:48 AM   #7
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the Russian Ekranoplan is one weird plane, though technically it isn't an aircraft.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lun-class_ekranoplan
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Old 9th May 2019, 08:48 AM   #8
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Anyway, this list of X-planes might be of interest here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_X-planes
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Old 9th May 2019, 09:00 AM   #9
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The disappearance of the large seaplane has a significant historical aspect. The 1930s designs, like the Boeing and Martin Clippers, and the Empire Flying Boats were quite useful at connecting the world.

Then WW-II happened. Tens of thousands of long range land planes were built, and thousands of military airfields in almost any spot large enough to fit. When they became available to civilian operators after the war the flying boat was no longer economical.
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Old 9th May 2019, 10:56 AM   #10
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The Avro Arrow

Just a shade under MACH 2 in level flight and one of the first fly by wire systems before it was cancelled in 1958. Probably one of the first modern looking planes, most of it's supersonic contemporaries were basically missiles with stubby wings.

https://vmcdn.ca/f/files/sudbury/ima...ized.jpg;w=630

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...ow_rollout.jpg
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Old 9th May 2019, 10:57 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
the Russian Ekranoplan is one weird plane, though technically it isn't an aircraft.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lun-class_ekranoplan
It's a ground effect vehicle, I think? Like this funky looking thing:

https://www.elitereaders.com/airfish...-marine-craft/
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Old 9th May 2019, 11:33 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
the Russian Ekranoplan is one weird plane, though technically it isn't an aircraft.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lun-class_ekranoplan
Looks like something out of Thunderbirds.
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Old 9th May 2019, 12:02 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
The Avro Arrow

Just a shade under MACH 2 in level flight and one of the first fly by wire systems before it was cancelled in 1958. Probably one of the first modern looking planes, most of it's supersonic contemporaries were basically missiles with stubby wings.

https://vmcdn.ca/f/files/sudbury/ima...ized.jpg;w=630

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...ow_rollout.jpg
Another good plane at the wrong point in history. Dedicated interceptors for going after the next generation of high-speed, high-altitude bombers were obsoleted at the same time as the bombers themselves.

---

One place to possibly find planes you've never heard of is the Wikipedia articles on the planes currently in use on US aircraft carriers. There are F-35s and F/A-18s in the interceptor/fighter/bomber role, and F/A-18Es in the electronic warfare role. If you read those articles, you'll see some familiar faces in the planes they replaced: the F-14, the A-6, and the EA-6. But if you look at the planes *those* replaced, you may start to see stuff you hadn't heard of before. You can trace the lineage of those roles, and the planes that filled them, all the way back to World War 2 and the inception of carrier-based warfare.

It's a fascinating journey through several generations of what was needed versus what was possible. Interceptors that were just supposed to throw a bunch of missiles at a Soviet bomber and then go home. Nuclear bombers that were supposed to lob their payload on a carefully-calculated trajectory that would allow them to escape the worst of the blast (memo to pilot: try not to look back at the explosion while flying away).

Reading through that history is what made me realize that pretty much *all* military aircraft are interim designs - essentially ad hoc intersections of what's needed versus what's possible, at that particular moment in time. All of them are only supposed to fill a capability gap until something better comes along, or until the game changes so much that a different capability is required.
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Old 9th May 2019, 01:34 PM   #14
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How about the Bristol Tramp, steam powered triplane?
Two were built but never flew.
There were development problems with the flash boilers and shaft drive system

http://www.aviastar.org/air/england/bristol_tramp.php
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Old 9th May 2019, 01:44 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
How about the Bristol Tramp, steam powered triplane?
Two were built but never flew.
There were development problems with the flash boilers and shaft drive system

http://www.aviastar.org/air/england/bristol_tramp.php
It almost sounds too ridiculous to be true. Almost.
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Old 9th May 2019, 01:45 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
How about the Bristol Tramp, steam powered triplane?
Two were built but never flew.
There were development problems with the flash boilers and shaft drive system

http://www.aviastar.org/air/england/bristol_tramp.php
I wouldn't consider designs that never flew. Especially designs from the other side of the materials science divide, where everyone was struggling to build an engine strong enough to contain the necessary power, and light enough to lift itself as well.

I would love to learn about a steam powered triplane, but for my money it would actually have to fly. Mounting a non-performant steam engine between triple-decker wings and never getting the assemblage off the ground doesn't really count as a "plane" in my book.

Originally Posted by Mike! View Post
It almost sounds too ridiculous to be true. Almost.
Almost. However, there was a point in history where the aerodynamics of heavier-than-air flight were understood, and could be successfully applied, but it was almost impossible to build engines that could contain the combustion energy and still be light enough to lift themselves off the ground. There were a lot of failed attempts before the right combination of alloys, fuels, and other factors came along to make it real.

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Old 9th May 2019, 01:59 PM   #17
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just heard about this one:

Superfly Terraplane
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Old 9th May 2019, 02:12 PM   #18
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How about the Christmas Bullet.

Probably the worst aircraft to ever fly?
Designed by Dr. William Whitney Christmas who thought wings didn't need struts or braces as they should be flexible and free to move.
Two were built and both crashed on their first flight.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_Bullet
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Old 9th May 2019, 02:13 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by CJW View Post
just heard about this one:

Superfly Terraplane
Music video on YouTube. Not actually anything to do with airplanes.
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Old 9th May 2019, 02:15 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
How about the Christmas Bullet.

Probably the worst aircraft to ever fly?
Designed by Dr. William Whitney Christmas who thought wings didn't need struts or braces as they should be flexible and free to move.
Two were built and both crashed on their first flight.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_Bullet
That's a tough one. It did fly, up to a point. I guess I'd put it provisionally at the lower boundary of what constitutes an actual "airplane".
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Old 9th May 2019, 02:30 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
I have an odd an unexplained fascination with military aircraft. I'm not really sure why. I think it's because they tend to be cutting edge and because I'm fascinated with the reasons they haven't really become any faster in the last 50 years or so.

Preamble aside, I simply wasn't aware that this thing (nearly) existed and it's one of the most stunning airplanes I've ever seen.

I give you, the Martin P6M SeaMaster

http://www.aviation-history.com/martin/p6m-8a.jpg

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...ight_c1955.jpg

Look at it!!!



If anyone wants to tell me about any others of which I may be unaware, that'd be cool
Looks like the Russians took that design concept and ran with it, to create the Beriev BE-200 Altair...

https://i.imgur.com/a1jcj8G.jpg


A firefighting water bomber.

Here's a YT video of it in action

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1nbX789Jis
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Old 9th May 2019, 02:32 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Looks like the Russians took that design concept and ran with it, to create the Beriev BE-200 Altair...

https://i.imgur.com/a1jcj8G.jpg


A firefighting water bomber.

Here's a YT video of it in action

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1nbX789Jis
Now that is some sexy sexy aeroplanin'!

Thanks for introducing me to this wonderful plane.
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Old 9th May 2019, 02:40 PM   #23
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How about the De Haviland Hornet, an 'improved' single seat fighter version of the Mosquito, used by the Fleet Air Arm but just too late for WW2 and made quickly obsolete by jet aircraft.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Havilland_Hornet

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Old 9th May 2019, 02:44 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Looks like the Russians took that design concept and ran with it, to create the Beriev BE-200 Altair...

https://i.imgur.com/a1jcj8G.jpg


A firefighting water bomber.

Here's a YT video of it in action

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1nbX789Jis


That's a serious airplane. That blue/red/white livery does it no favours. I'll take mine in the grey please.


There seems to be something about the shape that a flying boat has to be that makes them very aesthetically pleasing to me
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Old 9th May 2019, 02:46 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
How about the De Haviland Hornet, an 'improved' single seat fighter version of the Mosquito, used by the Fleet Air Arm but just too late for WW2 and made quickly obsolete by jet aircraft.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Havilland_Hornet
Eric Brown's favourite plane, if I recall correctly.

Dave
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Old 9th May 2019, 02:47 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
How about the De Haviland Hornet, an 'improved' single seat fighter version of the Mosquito, used by the Fleet Air Arm but just too late for WW2 and made quickly obsolete by jet aircraft.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Havilland_Hornet
Ah yes, Captain Eric 'Winkle' Brown's favourite plane. (out of the 487 he flew)

Edit: Totally ninja'd.
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Old 9th May 2019, 04:11 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Eric Brown's favourite plane, if I recall correctly.

Dave
High praise indeed.
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Old 9th May 2019, 04:14 PM   #28
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My personal fave is the Westland Whirlwind twin engined fighter.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westla...lwind_(fighter)

it was the first single-seat, twin-engined, cannon-armed fighter of the Royal Air Force.

It was hampered by the terrible Rolls-Royce Peregrine engine and only equipped a couple of squadrons.
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Old 9th May 2019, 04:28 PM   #29
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I'm at least somewhat familiar with all but one or two of those. Good choices, mostly.

The Avro Arrow story reminds me of the TSR-2, cancelled for similar political reasons. Both absolutely lovely and unaffordable. In all likelihood, neither would have lived up to the hype, but oh, weren't they lovely! When I joined Boeing, my group had several British ex-pats who had worked on the TSR-2. You didn't want to get them started talking about it unless you had an hour or two to kill.

Speaking of seaplane water bombers (well, someone was), the last one or two Martin Mars are on a lake on Vancouver Island maybe 100 miles from me. I need to get up there.
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Old 9th May 2019, 05:07 PM   #30
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Saunders-Roe SR.53

Combined Jet and Rocket powered interceptor.
Designed to give the performance that early jet engines couldn't give.

Flew lots of test flights but was overtaken by improved jet engine technology and performance resulting in the Lightning.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saunders-Roe_SR.53
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Old 9th May 2019, 05:20 PM   #31
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Don't forget the Supermarine 'Spiteful' a Griffon engined Spitfire successor with a whole new wing. or the Fleet Air Arm version the Supermarine Seafang.
Lovely aircraft but had very short life as they were swept aside by the new Jet technology and performance.
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Old 9th May 2019, 05:27 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
Don't forget the Supermarine 'Spiteful' a Griffon engined Spitfire successor with a whole new wing. or the Fleet Air Arm version the Supermarine Seafang.
Lovely aircraft but had very short life as they were swept aside by the new Jet technology and performance.
That happened to a lot of very nice post-WWII piston engined aircraft. Not all of them military.

There's even a boat racing parallel. The last really successful piston hydroplane was Miss Budweiser with a Griffon, a step above the Merlins. But not able to compete with the turbines. They really aren't "thunderboats" any more, and the whole sport seems to be dying.
ETA: The Griffon Budweiser appears to have been in 1984. Damn, I'm getting really old.
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Old 9th May 2019, 05:34 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
Saunders-Roe SR.53

Combined Jet and Rocket powered interceptor.
Designed to give the performance that early jet engines couldn't give.

Flew lots of test flights but was overtaken by improved jet engine technology and performance resulting in the Lightning.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saunders-Roe_SR.53
Good choice. That was Captain Scarlet's first ride wasn't it?
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Old 9th May 2019, 07:24 PM   #34
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Republic XF-91 Thunderceptor. Combined jet/rocket power, inverse taper and inverse chord variable angle of incidence wings.
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Old 9th May 2019, 08:05 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Pope130 View Post
Republic XF-91 Thunderceptor. Combined jet/rocket power, inverse taper and inverse chord variable angle of incidence wings.
And one modified later with a radar nose, the other with a butterfly tail.
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Old 9th May 2019, 08:09 PM   #36
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Jesus Christ that's a creepy ass plane. I'm gonna have to read up on that one.
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Old 9th May 2019, 08:19 PM   #37
smartcooky
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
I'm at least somewhat familiar with all but one or two of those. Good choices, mostly.

The Avro Arrow story reminds me of the TSR-2, cancelled for similar political reasons. Both absolutely lovely and unaffordable. In all likelihood, neither would have lived up to the hype, but oh, weren't they lovely! When I joined Boeing, my group had several British ex-pats who had worked on the TSR-2. You didn't want to get them started talking about it unless you had an hour or two to kill.

Speaking of seaplane water bombers (well, someone was), the last one or two Martin Mars are on a lake on Vancouver Island maybe 100 miles from me. I need to get up there.
TSR-2 was years ahead of its time. Give it a decent avionics suite, and IMO, it would have still cut the mustard at least up the mid 1990s. Mach 2.35 at 40,000 ft (1.1+ at sea level), combat radius 1400km, 0 to 40,000 ft in four minutes)
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Old 9th May 2019, 08:29 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
Flew lots of test flights but was overtaken by improved jet engine technology and performance resulting in the Lightning.
Ah, the English Electric Lightning..... the alternative method of vertical take-off!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CDLbokf9sg
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Old 9th May 2019, 09:04 PM   #39
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How about a De Havilland Vampire?

Always looked vaguely "Thunderbirds" to me...

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Old 9th May 2019, 09:08 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
How about the De Haviland Hornet, an 'improved' single seat fighter version of the Mosquito, used by the Fleet Air Arm but just too late for WW2 and made quickly obsolete by jet aircraft.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Havilland_Hornet
Or the Grumman F7F Tigercat:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1IM6nXsdQc

Just too late for WWII.

Speed:460 mph
Range: 1,200 mi
4 ◊ 20 mm cannon
4 ◊ .50 cal machine guns

Ridiculously skinny fuselage...
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