Sunday, October 13, 2013

Happy Turkey Day!

As much as the F-35 Lightning II gets more than its fair share of criticism and ridicule, it is far from the worst aircraft of all time.  At the end of the day, it will still be a decent strike fighter with a a good payload and advanced sensors.  No, the worst aircraft are the ones that are almost impossible to defend, served little or no purpose, or straight up had no real reason to exist in the first place.

In honour of Canadian Thanksgiving, here's a few turkeys!

NB-36 Nuclear powered bomber
See that "RADIOACTIVE" decal on the tail?  Yup, the NB-36 was a planned version of the B-36 bomber that would power its propellor engines using a full-blown nuclear reactor, similar to that of a nuclear submarine or aircraft carrier.  Needless to say, the possibility of an aircraft fitted with a live, working nuclear reactor crashing anywhere near a populated area makes us all thankful this aircraft never made it to production.

Brewster Buffalo F2A
While the Brewster F2A Buffalo had no real glaring weaknesses, it had no real strengths, either.  Slow, clumsy and lightly armored, the Buffalo didn't stand a chance against Japanese Zeros at the beginning of WWII.  It was quickly dumped in favor of the much more successful Grumman F4F Wildcat.

XF-85 Goblin
The XF-85 Goblin is one of those "what the hell were they thinking?" designs prevalent during those times of Cold War desperation.  Intended as a "parasite" fighter, the Goblin would have been carried into action by a much larger B-36 bomber and then released as an escort fighter when needed.  While this was an interesting theory, the Goblin was horribly overmatched by Soviet fighters at the time, and likely would have been of little tactical use.  Worse still, separating and reattaching to the "mother ship" was a white-knuckle exercise, resulting an a few cracked Goblin canopies.

Republic XF-84 "Thunderscreech".
Does the idea of a turboprop powered fighter aircraft sound good to you?  I must of seemed like a good idea to somebody at some point, otherwise the XF-84 never would have gone past the "cocktail napkin" design phase.  Utilizing a propellor that spun faster than the speed of sound, the XF-84 earned the nickname "Thunderscreech" for being possibly the loudest aircraft of all time.  It was so loud that crews that worked on it frequently complained of headaches, nausea, and even seizures.  The aircraft itself may be behind the legend of the infamous "brown note".

A-12 Avenger II
Intended as a replacement for the venerable A-6 Intruder, the A-12 Avenger II was the U.S. Navy's first attempt at a stealth platform akin to the USAF's F-117, B-2, and F-22.  Unfortunately, its status as a "top secret" project kept it away from typical budget oversight, and after years of cost overruns and delays, the project was finally cancelled without so much as a flying prototype to show for it.  Since then, it still lives on as a series of lawsuits.

Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka
As bad as some aircraft are, at least none of them are built with the express purpose of killing its pilot... At least, all but this one.  Developed at the end of WWII in a desperate effort to counter U.S. naval forces, the Ohka took the kamikaze attack strategy to the nth level.  Essentially a manned cruise missile, the Ohka was little more than a rocket powered aircraft with an explosive warhead.  While a few did find their targets, most were destroyed while still being carried by Japanese G4M "Betty" bombers.  Despite its desperate and deadly mission, the Ohka had little effect on the American advance.

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