F-19 is a designation for a hypothetical United States Navy fighter aircraft that has never been officially acknowledged, and has engendered much speculation that it might refer to a type of aircraft whose existence is still classified.
Since the unification of the numbering system in 1962, U.S. fighters have been designated by consecutive numbers, beginning with the F-1 Fury. F-13 was never assigned to a fighter due to superstition, though the designation had previously been used for a reconnaissance version of the B-29. After the F/A-18 Hornet, the next announced aircraft was the F-20 Tigershark. The USAF proposed the F-19 designation for the fighter, but Northrop requested the "F-20" instead. The USAF finally approved the F-20 designation in 1982. The truth behind this jump in numbers is Northrop pressed the designation "F-20" as they wanted an even number, in order to stand out from the Soviet odd numbered designations.
The most prevalent theory in the 1980s was that "F-19" was the designation of the stealth fighter whose development was an open secret in the aerospace community. When the actual aircraft was publicly revealed in 1988, it was called the F-117 Nighthawk. There seems to be no evidence that "F-19" was ever used to designate the Nighthawk, although the National Museum of the United States Air Force website does include the entry "Lockheed F-19 CSIRS (see F-117)" as of 2011. Another theory suggests that F-19 was the designation applied to the Have Blue technology demonstrator which led to the development of the F-117.
Notable appearances in media
- In the 1983 Chevy Chase film Deal of the Century, Gregory Hines' character "Ray Kasternak" piloted an "F-19" in a dogfight against an autonomous drone fighter.
- In 1986, the Testor Corporation released a model aircraft kit, calling it the "F-19 Stealth Fighter". The kit is claimed to be the best-selling plastic model kit of all time. In the Kate & Allie episode "The Odd Couples" (aired Dec. 26, 1988) actor Fred Koehler (Chip) is seen building one of these.
- Like the Testor Corporation, Monogram models also released the F-19A Specter which was based on the design by Loral Inc.
- In his 1986 novel Red Storm Rising, Tom Clancy featured the "F-19A Ghostrider" (nicknamed "Frisbee" by the pilots and crew) as a secret weapon used to combat a Soviet invasion of Germany. This vehicle was considerably more capable than the F-117, being a supersonic fighter rather than a subsonic precision bomber. The F-19A as described in the book featured underwing hardpoints for various ordnance, including air-to-air missiles and BLU-107 Durandal runway-cratering bombs. The aircraft also has circular wings instead of angular ones, hence the nickname.
- Jane's Information Group published an incorrect entry on the F-19 in their aviation reference, Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1986-1987. In addition to the fictitious artwork, the 1987-1988 and 1988-89 editions lists the aircraft as the "Lockheed 'RF-19'" and "'XST'".
- In 1988, MicroProse released a video game entitled F-19 Stealth Fighter, the first computer simulation of stealth air combat. The visual model of the aircraft was clearly based on Testor's F-19 model kit.
- In 1988, an F-19 was released in the G.I. Joe toy line, called the X-19 Phantom. Included was a pilot codenamed Ghostrider. The G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero toy the "Phantom X-19" was loosely based on the Testor model.
- The 1990 videogame James Bond 007: The Stealth Affair featured the "F-19" as the captured stealth fighter stolen during a testflight at NAS Miramar that ends up in a fictional Latin American country called Santa Paragua, where James Bond is sent to retrieve it.
- The 1990 videogame Air Diver featured an "F-119D Stealth Fighter" that strongly resembled the Monogram F-19 model.
- Related lists
- List of military aircraft of the United States
- List of fighter aircraft
- 1962 United States Tri-Service aircraft designation system
- Frey, Lieutenant Colonel William. "The F-20, Saga of an FX." Air University Review, May–June 1986.
- National Museum of the USAF Fighter Index Accessed February 28, 2011.[dead link]
- "Lockheed F-19 Stealth Fighter (1986)". Retrieved 2007-04-11.
- Trenner, Patricia (2008). "A Short (Very Short) History of the F-19". Air & Space magazine. Retrieved 2008-02-11.
- "A Very Short History of the F-19". Retrieved 2014-06-20.
- "F-19A Specter (1987)". Retrieved 2007-04-11.
- Taylor, JWR (Editor) (1988). Jane's All the World's Aircraft, 1988-1989. Jane's Information Group. p. 411. ISBN 0-7106-0867-5.
- "GI Joe ARAH PHANTOM X-19 STEALTH FIGHTER".
- "Air Diver rear box art".