- Fighter bomber redirects here. For the video game, see Fighter Bomber (video game).
A fighter-bomber is a fighter aircraft that is modified or used primarily as a light bomber in the tactical bombing and ground attack roles. It differs from attack aircraft primarily in its origins; attack aircraft are developed for the attack role first and any fighter capability is entirely secondary, whereas fighter-bombers are designed as fighters and then adapted to other roles. This term, although still used, has less significance since the introduction of rockets and guided missiles into aerial warfare. Nowadays, aircraft that carry similar duties are typically called multirole fighters or, sometimes, strike fighters.
Prior to World War II, limitations in engine power required each desired military role to be filled with a custom aircraft. Engine power grew dramatically during the early period of the war, roughly doubling in the period between 1939 and 1943. The Bristol Blenheim, a typical light bomber of the opening stages of the war, had two engines with a total power of less than 2,000 horsepower (1,500 kW). The Vought F4U Corsair of 1943 had more power in its single engine, part of a dramatically smaller, simpler, less expensive single-seat aircraft. With less airframe and crew to lift, the extra power of a platform like the Corsair was much greater than the Blenheim, and light bombers quickly disappeared from the skies.
This evolution in power led to many adaptations of existing fighter designs into the fighter-bomber role. Notable examples include the Focke-Wulf FW 190, Hawker Typhoon and Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. In terms of bombing tactics, various types of fighter-bombers used different techniques. Some of them were intended for high-level bombing, some for low-level semi-horizontal bombing, and some even for low-level steep dive bombing (as in case of Blackburn Skua or A-36 Apache).
In some cases larger twin-engine aircraft were also used in the fighter-bomber role, especially where longer ranges were needed in the naval strike role. Examples include the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, Bristol Beaufighter and de Havilland Mosquito. Some Beaufighters had a rear gun manned by the navigator-observer.
Fighter-bombers became increasingly important in the 1950s and 1960s, as new jet engines dramatically improved the power of even the smallest fighter designs. Many aircraft initially designed as fighters or interceptors found themselves in the fighter-bomber role at some point in their career. Notable among these is the F-104 Starfighter, initially designed as a high-performance day fighter and then adapted to the nuclear strike role for European use. Other US examples include the F-100 Super Sabre and, perhaps the most famous example, the F-4 Phantom II, which was used to a great extent during the Vietnam War.
See also 
- Dive bomber
- Light bomber
- Tactical bomber
- Ground-attack aircraft
- Multirole combat aircraft
- Strike fighter