by Frederick A. Johnsen
quiet lineup of Cold War jets at the west end of the Warbird area at
AirVenture 2008 speaks volumes about their era. The straight-wing
Republic F-84C Thunderjet represents a breed of fighter that briefly
held a U.S. speed record—611 mph—in 1946. Cruising at 436 mph,
well above the speeds of World War II piston-engine fighters, the
F-84 would nonetheless be eclipsed by the advent of sweptwing jets
F-80 Shooting Star, another straight-wing jet that beat the F-84
into the air, cruised at a similar 439 mph. To the F-80 goes credit
for being victorious in the world’s first all-jet air combat, when
a Shooting Star flown by U.S. Air Force Lt. Russel Brown downed a
MiG-15 over Korea on November 8, 1950.
two-seat trainer version of the Shooting Star—originally called
TF-80 and later T-33—faces the line-up of jets at the Warbird
area. T-33s trained thousands of American fliers as well as jet
pilots from many countries around the world.
interpretation of a training jet comes in the form of a Fouga
Magister in the line-up, its unusual V-tail marking its presence.
Two Soviet designs—a Korean War-vintage MiG-15 and a Vietnam-era
supersonic MiG-21—add counterpoint to the display.
brilliant red Hawker Hunter Mk. 51 from the mid-1950s represents an
aesthetic and effective supersonic contender from Great Britain.
the fabled war-winning F-86 Sabre, represented by a Canadian Sabre
Mk. V built by Canadair, shows the pace of development of early
jets. Post-dating the F-80 and F-84 by only a few years, the
sweptwing Sabre cruised at faster than 500 mph. The Sabre and the
opposing MiG-15 quickly and starkly validated the improvements
offered by sweptwing technology in the skies over Korea.
These jet warbirds on
display at AirVenture 2008 survived the decades by several means.
Service in various countries prolonged the lives of some of them
beyond that envisioned by their designers, and license-built foreign
variants also kept some of these historic shapes viable and