F-19 is a designation for a hypothetical 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. This doesn't seem plausible, because the designations F-17, F-21, and F-23 had not been skipped.
Throughout most of the 1980s, "F-19" was thought to be the designation of the stealth fighter whose development was an open secret in the aerospace community. When the actual aircraft was publicly revealed in November 1988, its designation was revealed to be F-117.
Another rumor was that F-19 is really the designation of some other super-secret project, one that so black that it will not be revealed for many years. Maybe the Aurora that has been the subject of gossip, rumor, and speculation for the last decade is actually designated F-19.
One more version was part of a deliberate plot by the Air Force to confuse Soviet intelligence - hoodwinking them into expending so much effort in trying to find out information about a plane that does not exist.
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.
- Richard G. Sheffield (1995). Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk. Aerospace. p. 72. ISBN 978-1880588192.
- "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".
- Non-Standard DOD Aircraft Designations: Lockheed Martin F-117 Nighthawk
- "Missing" USAF/DOD Aircraft Designations