Aircraft stories

Find out how American airpower has played a key part in conflict throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

F-111 Aardvark in flight US Public Domain

The F-111 Aardvark: America's all weather attack aircraft

The F-111 Aardvark was an all-weather attack aircraft, capable of low-level penetration of enemy defences to deliver ordnance on the target. It was also the first production aircraft to feature variable-sweep wings. After a troubled development, the F-111 entered service with the US Air Force in 1967. It flew in Vietnam, Operation El Dorado Canyon, and the first Gulf War before its retirement in 1998.
A P-51 Mustang (PI-W, serial number 44-15056) nicknamed "Jackie" of the 356th Fighter Group in flight, flown by Captain Jack W "Wild Bill" Crump. ©IWM (FRE 6075)

What made the P-51 Mustang special?

The P-51 Mustang could fly and fight with British and American bombers all the way to Berlin and back again. By 1944, the aircraft helped the Allies gain aerial superiority over Western Europe.
A-10 Thunderbolt II in flight US Public Domain

The A-10 Thunderbolt II: unbeatable for close air support

The A-10 Thunderbolt II is best known for two things: the GAU-8 30 mm rotary cannon in its nose, and its ability to destroy tanks. Unpopular when first introduced, the A-10 Warthog is considered by many as very well designed to fulfil its mission: close air support to ground forces
U-2 Reconnaissance image of Cuba 14 October 1962 US Official

The U-2 and the Cuban Missile Crisis

U-2 overflights across the Soviet Union were incredibly dangerous missions. Every flight was at risk of being perceived as an unauthorised invasion of another country’s airspace.