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Aircraft History: The Evolution of Fighter Jets

Fighter jets are aircraft used by militaries around the world for in air combat. Fighter airplanes were initially used during World War I but were powered by piston engines. Piston engines work by pistons moving back and forth within cylinders. Fuel entering the cylinders is ignited and the expansion of hot gases causes the crankshaft to turn, and the propellers to rotate, which thrusts the plane forward. A jet engine, however, uses direct thrust. Jet engines work by pulling air through a fan at the front. The air is compressed and combined with fuel which creates a spark. The expanding gases shot from the back of the engine and thrust the aircraft forward. The first patent for a jet engine was granted in 1932. With piston engines, advancements and performance reaching a peak, the invention of jet engines would lead the way for radical changes in fighter jets and military battle strategies.

The first operational jet fighter showed up during the end of World War II. Called the Messerschmitt Me 262, the German engineered craft, featured swept back wings. The wings and the jet engine made the fighter faster than any other planes on the battlefield. As more countries abandoned piston fighters in favor of jet fighters, the fighters got faster and more powerful. Swept wings were also increasingly utilized to reduce drag. After the Korean War, jet fighters begin to use radar for offense. By the Vietnam War, fighters had gotten even more complex and were often capable of air and ground based attacks. Modern fighter jets are increasingly relying on stealth technology to reduce the reliability of radar or visible detection of fighter jets in the sky. Today’s most advanced jet fighters can fly at supersonic speeds and reach altitudes not imaginable in early generation jet fighters. The use of increased in air maneuverability, and utilization of various sensors and electronic systems have allowed for some automation of details previously handled by the pilot.

Avro CF-100 - Canada's First Jet Fighter

Early Jet Fighters

Early Soviet Jet Fighter Development

Evolution Of Military Aircraft From Cold War To Today

F-35 Weapons Program

Fighter Generations

First Jet Fighter - Me 262

Gloster Meteor - Britain’s First Jet Fighter (PDF)

Jet Fighter Design & Development Post World War II

Modern Military Planes

The Future Of Military Airplanes

The Sixth Generation Fighter




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