with thanks to Counting Cats in Zanzibar ( http://www.countingcats.com/?p=2242 ) for the original and Landed Underclass for the pointer to it ( http://landedunderclass.wordpress.com/2009/04/11/aviation-meme/#comments ) - here are mine, for what it's worth -
Best fighter (pre-jet) – Hawker Hurricane
Not the most obvious, I would agree. But the Hurricane did the lion’s share of the work during the Battle Of Britain – capable of holding it’s own against the early marks of the Bf-109 and being easier to repair in the field than the Spitfire, with it’s semi-wood and fabric construction lending itself to both easier fixes than it’s all-metal counterpart and also making it in some ways harder to knock down – depending where it was hit, cannon shells could on occasion go straight through without their fuses being set off, not always the case with the metal skinned Supermarine product.
Unfairly eclipsed by the Spitfire, in my opinion. And if the Battle Of Britain had not been won, then would the 8th Army Air Force have had anywhere to fly their P-51s from?
Best fighter (jet) – McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II
The second most numerous jet fighter ever built, it could (and has) done it all (and still does on a front line basis in several countries) – dogfighter, interceptor, bomber, CAS, recon – and bears the distinction of being the only aircraft to be used by both the USAF Thunderbirds and the US Navy Blue Angels aerobatic display teams. Of course, we had to screw things up by insisting the FAA versions used the Spey (great idea on paper – not so good in practice – see here - http://www.thunder-and-lightnings.co.uk/phantom/history.html )
Best Bomber – Blackburn Buccaneer
Eh? Well, for several reasons – in service with the FAA and RAF for over thirty years in total, in some ways still having a better performance than the aircraft that replaced it in the maritime strike role ( it could carry more anti-ship missiles further than the Tornado ). Legend had it that at the annual Red Flag exercises held in the US, it was the only NATO plane that the much more modern F-15’s and 16’s couldn’t even begin to get close to – and by the time they had, the pursuits usually had to be broken off due to lack of fuel. It was said in the RAF that the best replacement for the Buccaneer would be ‘another Buccaneer, with better electronics’.
Pure Sex – Supermarine Spitfire
You can keep your Blackbirds and your Concordes, this is it. Especially the late-mark 22s and 24s with the Griffon engine needing that bulged engine cowling – it’s the aeronautical equivalent of a classic American muscle car, to the point I’m always put in mind of the Ford Mustang car when I look at the Spitfire. To my mind, there’s the same kind of family resemblance when you look at the early and late versions of both machines – the clean lines of the mk.1 and the ’67 coupe, to the look of sheer brutish power of the late war teardrop canopied versions and the Mach 1 – unmistakably the same lineage, but at the same time very different. And then there’s that engine noise…