Top 10 weirdest fighter jets
Most fighter jets are normal. But some are so unusual, they are straight up weird. Here are 10 of them we found the weirdest!
The only criteria here is sheer strangeness of the design – the more unconventional, the better. Fighter jets are defined as jet aircraft designed to engage other aircraft in the air. While, as a rule, jet aircraft tend to be less unconventional than propeller-driven ones, the weirdest prop fighters are a story for another day.
Also, just the ones that had flying prototypes are counted here.
Honorable mention: Saab 35 Draken
Image: Alan Wilson / Wikipedia
The entirety of this list consists of designs that never went into mass production and never were adopted. But we should include at least one jet that was actually used for service, and this Swedish design – with its blended body and delta wings – has no competition.
10. Nord 1500 Griffon
Image: Roland Turner / Wikipedia
There is something weird and a bit scary about fighter jets that have massive air intake just below the cockpit. Probably it is because of similarity to the human face, and in that case, this French interceptor prototype from the 50s appears wanting to swallow you whole.
9. Boeing X-32
Image: USAF / Wikipedia
Continuing the theme of weird air intakes, this fifth-generation fighter jet – which lost the competition to what later became F-35 – appears to be smiling. Some say this unusual appearance actually contributed to its loss, as the military tends to favor boring-looking aircraft. As interesting as it may be, it is unlikely this myth is based on reality.
8. Yakovlev Yak-38U
Twin-seat version of a somewhat infamous Soviet vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) fighter jet, it looks like Harrier got spagettified by a black hole. And bitten by a bee at the same time.
7. Republic XF-91 Thunderceptor
Image: USAF / Wikipedia
Everybody knows Sukhoi Su-57 Berkut and Grumman X-29, aircraft that looked like their wings are fitted the wrong way. But XF-91 went a step further: its wings were inversely tapered as if attached by the wrong side. Or maybe Republic Aviation just tried to reinvent a butterfly.
6. Lockheed YF-12
Image: USAF / Wikipedia
It is not about how it looks, but about what it does. YF-12 is essentially SR-71 Blackbird (World’s fastest spy plane), but a fighter. Designed to pursue Soviet bombers at speeds exceeding Mach 3, it was a bit of an overkill, to say the least.
5. Rockwell HiMAT
Image: U.S. National Archive / Wikipedia
Lo and behold, we enter into the zone where all aircraft look like something from Star Wars. The first of them is HiMAT, an attempt to make as maneuverable a fighter jet as possible. If not for the highly unusual paint scheme, it would look like an F-16 from the world of Mad Max.
4. Ryan X-13 Vertijet
It does what it says: Vertijet is a jet designed to take off vertically, one of many similar designs experimented on by the U.S. in the 50s. Quite surprisingly, none of the two prototypes crashed.
3. Rockwell XFV-12
Image: Rockwell / Wikipedia
Supersonic VTOL jet prototype from the 70s, it very well could have been Rockwell’s attempt to enter the science fiction genre. Too bad, the aircraft was pretty bad at actually flying.
2. Northrop XP-79B
Image: USAAF / Wikipedia
This time it is not only weird looks, and not only strange performance. It’s both. Well known amongst aviation geeks, XP-79 has a reputation that is well-deserved. Yes, it was designed to attack enemy bombers by crashing into them. What not to love?
1. Convair F2Y Sea Dart
Image: U.S. Navy / Wikipedia
Flying boats are cool. Supersonic interceptors are cool too. Why not marry those ideas?
While for some time it appeared that water-borne fighters are a thing of the past, there were actually attempts to make them at the beginning of the jet age. Saunders Roe SR.A/1 jet fighter flying boat was one of them, it looked ridiculous (well, maybe not ridiculous enough to make this list), and everybody forgot about it.
But Convair had other thoughts. They took their F-102 Delta Dagger interceptor, fiddled with it a bit, and put it on water skis. In the 50s the idea of supersonic jets taking off from aircraft carriers looked a bit too futuristic, so, this was an attempt to use proven technology instead. Supersonic fighter jets taking off and landing on water. Why not?
Five prototypes were built and extensively tested, at least one of them with, ehm, quite explosive consequences. Others were grounded, and undeservedly forgotten
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