Second-generation jet fighter

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The second generation jet fighters existed between the mid-1950s to the early 1960s.

Development[edit]

The development of second-generation fighters was shaped by technological breakthroughs, lessons learned from the aerial battles of the Korean War, and a focus on conducting operations in a nuclear warfare environment. Technological advances in aerodynamics, propulsion and aerospace building materials (primarily aluminum alloys) permitted designers to experiment with aeronautical innovations, such as swept wings, delta wings, and area-ruled fuselages. Widespread use of after-burning turbojet engines made these the first production aircraft to break the sound barrier, and the ability to sustain supersonic speeds in level flight became a common capability amongst fighters of this generation.

Electronics[edit]

Fighter designs also took advantage of new electronics technologies that made effective radars small enough to be carried aboard smaller aircraft. Onboard radars permitted detection of enemy aircraft beyond visual range, thereby improving the handoff of targets by longer-ranged ground-based warning and tracking radars. Similarly, advances in guided missile development allowed air-to-air missiles to begin supplementing the gun as the primary offensive weapon for the first time in fighter history. During this period, passive-homing infrared-guided (IR) missiles became commonplace, but early IR missile sensors had poor sensitivity and a very narrow field of view (typically no more than 30°), which limited their effective use to only close-range, tail-chase engagements. Radar-guided (RF) missiles were introduced as well, but early examples proved unreliable. These semi-active radar homing (SARH) missiles could track and intercept an enemy aircraft "painted" by the launching aircraft's onboard radar. Medium- and long-range RF air-to-air missiles promised to open up a new dimension of "beyond-visual-range" (BVR) combat, and much effort was placed in further development of this technology.

MiG-21F interceptor

Weapons[edit]

The prospect of a potential third world war featuring large mechanized armies and nuclear weapon strikes led to a degree of specialization along two design approaches: interceptors (like the English Electric Lightning and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21F) and fighter-bombers (such as the Republic F-105 Thunderchief and the Sukhoi Su-7). Dogfighting, per se, was deemphasized in both cases. The interceptor was an outgrowth of the vision that guided missiles would completely replace guns and combat would take place at beyond visual ranges. As a result, interceptors were designed with a large missile payload and a powerful radar, sacrificing agility in favour of high speed, altitude ceiling and rate of climb. With a primary air defence role, emphasis was placed on the ability to intercept strategic bombers flying at high altitudes. Specialized point-defence interceptors often had limited range and little, if any, ground-attack capabilities. Fighter-bombers could swing between air superiority and ground-attack roles, and were often designed for a high-speed, low-altitude dash to deliver their ordnance. Television- and IR-guided air-to-surface missiles were introduced to augment traditional gravity bombs, and some were also equipped to deliver a nuclear bomb.

Active and Formerly Active[edit]

Aircraft Primary
Builder
Number
built
First
flight
Service
life
Length
m
Wingspan
m
Wing area
sq. m
Empty
weight
Max takeoff
weight
Max Speed
km/h
Range
km
Celling
m
Engines
×
Thrust
Vought F-8 Crusader  United States 1,219 1955 1957-1999 16.53 10.87 34.80 7,956 kg 13,000 kg 1,975 2,795 17,700 1 × 47.6 kN/80.1 kN
Convair F-102 Delta Dagger  United States 1,000 1953 1956-1979 20.83 11.61 64.57 8,777 kg 14,300 kg 1,304 2,175 16,300 1 × 52.0 kN/76.5 kN
Douglas F4D Skyray  United States 422 1951 1956-1964 13.80 10.21 52.00 7,268 kg 10,273 kg 1,162 1,100 17,000 1 × 45.0 kN/71.0 kN
Lockheed F-104 Starfighter  United States 2,578 1954 1958-2004 16.66 6.36 18.22 6,350 kg 13,170 kg 2,137 2,623 15,000 1 × 48.0 kN/69.0 kN
McDonnell F-101 Voodoo  United States 807 1954 1957-1984 20.55 12.09 34.20 12,925 kg 23,770 kg 1,825 2,450 17,800 2 × 53.3 kN/75.2 kN
North American F-100 Super Sabre  United States 2,294 1953 1954-1988 15.20 11.81 37.00 9,500 kg 15,800 kg 1,390 3,320 15,000 1 × 45.0 kN/71.0 kN
Republic F-105 Thunderchief  United States 833 1955 1958-1984 19.63 11.25 35.76 12,470 kg 23,834 kg 2,208 3,550 14,800 1 × 63.74 kN/109.0 kN
English Electric Lightning  United Kingdom 337 1954 1959-1988 16.80 10.60 44.08 14,092 kg 20,752 kg 2,100 1,370 16,000 2 × 55.74 kN/71.17 kN
Folland Gnat  United Kingdom 449 1955 1959-1991 8.74 6.73 12.69 2,175 kg 4,100 kg 1,120 800 14,630 2 × 20.9 kN
Supermarine Scimitar  United Kingdom 76 1956 1957-1969 16.84 11.33 45.06 10,869 kg 15,513 kg 1,185 2,289 14,000 1 × 50.1 kN
Dassault Super Mystère  France 180 1955 1957-1977 14.13 10.51 32.00 6,390 kg 10,000 kg 1,950 1,175 17,000 1 × 33.3 kN/44.1 kN
Dassault Étendard IV  France 90 1958 1962-1991 14.40 9.60 29.00 5,900 kg 10,200 kg 1,099 3,300 15,500 1 × 43.16 kN
Dassault Mirage III  France 1,422 1956 1961–Present 15.03 8.22 34.85 7,050 kg 13,700 kg 2,350 4,000 17,000 1 × 41.97 kN/60.8 kN
Dassault Mirage 5  France 582 1967 1961–Present 15.03 8.22 34.85 7,050 kg 13,700 kg 2,350 4,000 18,000 1 × 41.97 kN/60.8 kN
IAI Nesher  Israel 61 1971 1972-2012 15.65 8.22 34.80 6,600 kg 13,500 kg 2,572 1,300 17,680 1 × 41.97 kN/60.8 kN
Saab 35 Draken  Sweden 651 1955 1960-2005 15.35 9.42 49.22 7,865 kg 11,400 kg 2,695 3,250 18,000 1 × 56.5 kN/78.4 kN
Fiat G.91  Italy 770 1956 1958-1995 10.30 8.56 16.40 3,100 kg 5,500 kg 1,075 1,150 13,100 1 × 22.2 kN
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19  Soviet Union 2,172 1953 1955–Present 12.54 9.00 25.00 5,447 kg 7,560 kg 1,455 2,200 17,500 2 × 31.9 kN
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21  Soviet Union 11,496 1955 1959–Present 15.00 7.15 23.00 5,339 kg 8,725 kg 2,237 1,210 17,800 1 × 40.21 kN/69.62 kN
Sukhoi Su-7  Soviet Union 1,847 1955 1959-1990 16.80 9.31 34.00 8,937 kg 15,210 kg 1,150 1,650 17,600 1 × 66.6 kN/94.1 kN
Sukhoi Su-9  Soviet Union 1,150 1956 1959-1970s 17.37 8.43 34.00 8,620 kg 12,250 kg 2,135 1,125 16,760 1 × 67.1 kN/98.1 kN
Shenyang J-6  People's Republic of China 3,000 1958 1961-2002 12.54 9.20 25.00 5,447 kg 7,560 kg 1,540 2,200 17,900 2 × 29.0 kN/36.78 kN
Chengdu J-7  People's Republic of China 2,400+ 1966 1960s-Present 14.88 8.32 24.88 5,292 kg 9,100 kg 2,200 2,200 17,500 1 × 44.1 kN/64.7 kN
HAL HF-24 Marut  India 147 1961 1964-1985 15.87 9.00 28.00 6,195 kg 10,908 kg 1,112 396+ 13,750 2 × 21.57 kN

Note: Thrust Dry/Afterburner (in some cases only data for one of the two might be available)

This generational era also saw the introduction of carrier based VTOL aircraft such as:

Aircraft Primary
Builder
Number
built
First
flight
Service
life
Length
m
Wingspan
m
Wing area
sq. m
Empty
weight
Max takeoff
weight
Max Speed
km/h
Range
km
Celling
m
Engines
×
Thrust
Hawker Siddeley Harrier  United Kingdom 278 1967 1969–Present 14.27 7.70 18.68 6,140 kg 11,430 kg 1,176 3,425 15,600 1 × 95.6 kN
Yakovlev Yak-38  Soviet Union 231 1971 1976-1991 16.37 7.32 18.50 7,385 kg 11,300 kg 1,280 1,300 11,000 1 × 66.7 kN
2 × 31.9 kN

Canceled Aircraft[edit]