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95 votes
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Were there any planes used in WWII that were able to shoot their own tail?

The Douglas SBD Dauntless's rear gunner could shoot its own tail. The SBD-5 had two 30-cal machine guns that could be popped out of storage in the aft fuselage and locked into a ring frame around the ...
Rob McDonald's user avatar
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47 votes

Why is this plane indicating an altitude of 117,200 feet?

Without knowing the details of the flight, it looks like one of the bits in the altitude transmission is set wrong. In the coding of altitiude, the transponder uses the so-called Gillham code. This is ...
DeltaLima's user avatar
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38 votes
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What aircraft is this compass from?

The US Army Air Force and Navy compass type D-12 encompasses several models manufactured by Bendix/Pioneer: 1801, 1826 (yours), 1832 and 1833. The D-12: Is a direct reading compass, not a fluxgate. ...
mins's user avatar
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37 votes
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Why are there still fighter pilots in cockpits?

That's a great way to make a fighter jet even more fantastically expensive while being less effective. One obvious problem is latency. 1000 miles is about a 10 millisecond round-trip delay alone even ...
Chris's user avatar
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36 votes
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How are the dry lake runways at Edwards AFB marked, and how are they maintained?

They use oil, specifically SSH1 which is environmentally friendly. This oil replaces the tar that used to be used. Source: Rebecca Amber, Can you see me now? Lakebeds 'restriped', Edwards Air Force ...
Jim's user avatar
  • 1,176
31 votes

Am I seeing double? What kind of helicopter is this, and how many blades does it actually have?

It appears to be a greatly zoomed in overhead view of some variant of the CH-53. (I haven't verified, but per another member, it's a S-65C-3 Export version of the CH-53D for the Israeli Air Force) It ...
Michael Hall's user avatar
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29 votes

What is this military aircraft I saw near Catalina island?

Almost certainly a Hawker Hunter, in fact the image on wiki is almost exactly the same aspect as your first picture: One has certainly been spotted near Catalina Island before: Here is a photo of ...
Jamiec's user avatar
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29 votes

Help ID a WW1 Plane

About the airplane: It looks like a Fokker D.II. About the engine: it definitely looks like a Oberursel_U.I. About the pilot: thanks to @PortreeKid we know him to be the test pilot Werner Emil. We ...
sophit's user avatar
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28 votes

Why does the USAF still use the C-17 Globemaster III?

The C-17 is made by a US company, Boeing. The A-400 is not. KC-10 is long out of production. Every aircraft in the history of ever had growing pains. If we bailed at the first "problem", ...
WPNSGuy's user avatar
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26 votes
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Why are Search & Rescue aircraft looking for the OceanGate Titan submarine not visible on ADS-B Exchange?

ADS-B is line-of-sight. For an aircraft to be visible to an ADS-B receiver, it needs to be above the horizon. The wreck of the Titanic is 600 kilometers from the nearest land, so in order to be ...
Mark's user avatar
  • 5,562
24 votes

Which fighter jet is seen here at Centennial Airport Colorado?

These are F-18E Super Hornets, the single seat variant of the E/F Super Hornet. The E/F variants are most noticeably different than their C/D counterparts by the square air intakes. When they are side-...
DeepSpace's user avatar
  • 4,505
23 votes

Why are Search & Rescue aircraft looking for the OceanGate Titan submarine not visible on ADS-B Exchange?

The aircraft probably do not transmit ADS-B messages, many military aircraft don't. The only way ADS-B exchange can locate these aircraft in such case is by using multilateration. Multilateration only ...
DeltaLima's user avatar
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22 votes

Why are there still fighter pilots in cockpits?

1. Demand The problem isn't just that fighters are manned. It's also the concept of aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat that's getting less relevant. After Vietnam and Yom Kippur (1970s),...
Therac's user avatar
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22 votes

Why does the USAF still use the C-17 Globemaster III?

This answer covers some significant differences in the aircraft. The key difference there is maximum cargo weight. The A-400M has a maximum cargo of 81,600 lb. The C-17 has a maximum cargo of 175,000 ...
Machavity's user avatar
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21 votes
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What is this different airplane being flown in formation by the Red Arrows

As @Tim wrote in the comments, it's a Folland Gnat. The Red Arrows' own website offers this explanation, in a news release posted on March 8, 2024: A vintage jet, of the type used by the original Red ...
TypeIA's user avatar
  • 14.4k
20 votes

Image recognition in air to air missiles

It is used by modern missiles. Military isn't the birthplace for every tech, but they've been working on image recognition long before the general public heard the term "image recognition". ...
Therac's user avatar
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18 votes
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What capabilities have been lost with the retirement of the F-14?

The F-14 wasn't just an air defense fighter. Any multirole would work for a carrier-on-carrier fight, winning through numbers and training. The F-14 was designed to counter a specific threat: Tu-16s ...
Therac's user avatar
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18 votes
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Why does this Curtiss Kittyhawk have a Question Mark in its squadron code?

It was fairly common to use “?” if there were more than 26 aircraft in the squadron. (only 26 letters in the alphabet) Camouflage and markings of No.112 Squadron RAF, “The second thing is the use of ...
Mike Sowsun's user avatar
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18 votes
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Do the military really use GA planes as target practice?

As for the US, they do practice intercepts on GA planes and they aren't supposed to. A F-16 was involved in a hull-loss crash due to perceived loss of control during a low-speed interception, and the ...
user71659's user avatar
  • 6,636
18 votes

Why wasn't the F-14 upgraded for an electronic warfare role after the Cold War?

Cost, weight, age, and commonality. Cost and weight: The F/A-18 was designed to be a relatively affordable and maintainable multirole fighter, in part addressing the deficiencies of the F-14 in this ...
Therac's user avatar
  • 27.6k
17 votes

Why aren’t there Seaplane AWACS?

The E-2 Hawkeye is a carrier based aircraft that fills that role for the US Navy. It is an older airframe, but very capable, and a replacement is in work. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
Michael Hall's user avatar
  • 26.9k
16 votes

Do fighter pilots have to manually input the ordnance they have loaded on the aircraft?

On the B-52G and H models (at least in the 80s when I worked on the simulator) weapon loading was part of the data read into the Offensive Avionics System preflight, from a digital tape cartridge. ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
15 votes
Accepted

Aside from simulated dogfights, do F-22 Raptors actively participate in live fire/target practice using live munitions?

Plenty of times. There are multiple missile shoots annually out of Tyndall Air Force Base, where F-22s or other active duty and reserve Air Force units fire live ammunition at target drones over the ...
Romeo_4808N's user avatar
  • 74.1k
15 votes

First airplane with software?

A RAND report from 1982 suggests that the first digital computer in an aircraft was a fire control system on the F-102, quoting from page 1: "Among the earliest, if not the first, digital ...
Adam Hyland's user avatar
15 votes
Accepted

Image recognition in air to air missiles

Modern missiles are using computer vision or image processing technology. Obviously, for this to work you need an image, which is typically provided by an image-generating IR-sensor (note that this ...
U_flow's user avatar
  • 3,840
14 votes

Why is only one rudder deflected on this Su 35?

Both rudders are deflected, but from that angle you can't see the other one. They are pointing outboard, as speed brakes. (This image looks similar enough to some clips in a promotional video by the ...
Camille Goudeseune's user avatar
14 votes

Why aren’t there Seaplane AWACS?

Seaplanes need extensive support infrastructure, and are hard to operate in all but the smoothest of sea states. They're also hell to maintain because of the salt water corrosion affecting everything (...
jwenting's user avatar
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