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Fighter Planes


Fighter Planes
From daring dogfights over World War I France, to the computer-powered prowess of the modern era’s jet fighters, the history of aerial warfare is nearly as old as flight itself.


In 1915, Dutch engineer Anton Fokker devised an interrupter gear, a simple mechanism that allowed a  fixed machine gun to fire through a plane’s running propeller blades. The first plane to use this  was the Fokker Eindecker, which was so effective it began what the British Royal Flying Corps  referred to as the ‘Fokker Scourge’. This sparked an international race to create faster, more manoeuvrable and ever-more destructive aircraft.
By the end of the Great War, the tactical advantages of maintaining air superiority were well  established and by 1939 and the dawn of the Second World War, another leap in aerial combat was  already dominating the skies. Capable of hitting speeds of over 500 kilometres (311 miles) per  hour, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 was over three times faster than the Eindecker. From its testing  ground in the skies of the Spanish Civil War to the invasions of Poland and France, this powerful, lightweight and well-armed fighter set a new precedent for fighter planes.
Aerial warfare was now recognised as the key to strategic success on the ground. Luckily, Allied  machines, such as the Rolls Royce-powered Spitfire that was already in service at the outbreak of  the war, were able to out-class their German rivals. In the final months of the war, however, the  future of fighter aircraft had already taken to the skies. Though it came too late and in too small a number to turn the tide of the war for Hitler, the Messerschmitt Me 262 was the first-ever jet fighter, capable of speeds of  870 kilometres (541 miles) per hour.
Some of the last propeller-powered combat was seen in the Korean War of 1950 to ’53, before the world fully entered into the jet age. The skies of the Cold War became tensely patrolled by Soviet MiG-15s, American F-15 fighters and some of the fastest planes ever engineered. Then specialist vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft were developed for deployments on aircraft carriers, while secret stealth and surveillance technology was covertly advanced to wage  the war in the shadows.
In modern warfare the job of the fighter plane is still a crucial element. The new generation of computer-assisted jets are capable of more roles and simultaneous operations than ever before; reducing the risk to the pilot, increasing the threat to the enemy and ensuring complete dominance of the skies.