The Telegraph runs a snapshot of Aviation under the title of “The 18 most important aircraft of all time”, and shows photographs of its own choices which lead that list. I would, however, challenge that list on various grounds; the greatest one being the simple fact that they only show Civil and Passenger aircraft. I would contend that they missed a few off that list, but, presumably because the arbiter of the list is probably a Quaker, a ‘Peace-activist’, or even what used to be termed a ‘Pacifist’ before Jeremy Corbyn besmirched that possibly noble idea; no military aircraft made their short list.
My list is quite short.
Curtiss JN4H planes with Hispano-Suiza motors. These aircraft made the first scheduled Civil Air Mail runs in America, and indeed the World.
Hawker Hurricane. Although being a better fighter than the Spitfire, (better turning rate, better fighter ability than the Spitfire, the Spitfire got all the glory, and the Hurricane was relegated into the back-seat of history).
Boeing 707 the first truly successful jet passenger aircraft, and the one which ushered in the fantastic expansion of air travel. The Comet was the first, but the design failures which saw four jets crash in quick succession ruled it, and Britain, out of the competition for ever.
Boeing B-17 bomber. The Sound of Freedom.
As I wrote, some ten years ago:-
Yesterday afternoon a strange sound reverberated around the skies over Durham City. It was a sound which once comforted millions; a sound which gave the populations of Great Britain further assurance that the greatest arm of Democracy in the known world was resolutely on our side, and that ‘Right’ was linked with ‘Might’ against the sinister forces which sat malevolently across Western Europe! The sound was that of four twelve-hundred horsepower Wright Cyclone radial engines turning eleven foot seven-inch diameter three-blade propellors; which in turn thrust a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber across the skies of the United Kingdom. The hammering blast of noise, which of course would be denounced these days as totally objectionable in terms of ‘damage to the environment’ was never subject to any complaints from the British population in the dark days of 1943; but instead was proof that America was with us in body as well as in spirit, because without both the lifeline provided by the Atlantic convoys, which helped supply and feed an embattled nation, and the huge influx of American servicemen and war material such as the formidable B-17 bombers, we would not have survived as a nation against the onslaught from Nazi Germany!
The Strategic Air Command, the one organisation dedicated solely to the destruction of the Communist Empire of Soviet Russia, fielded many types of bomber in it’s long and illustrious history, from the Boeing B-29 through to the B-47, the B-58 Hustler and the legendary B-52 of longer service than many alive today which was also known as the B.U.F.F’S., (for translation of this acronym, refer to Frederick Forsyth’s magic novel entitled “The Fist of God” where these splendid heavy bombers are referred to as “BIG UGLY FAT F*****S”); but the first design brought out by Boeing was the B-17 ‘Flying Fortress’, whose superb build and legendary toughness brought crews safely back to our shores from their punishing daylight raids over Germany.
These days we can sit back in our cars, and watch as the modern jets swoop overhead, wheeling and whistling as they pound past in air-shows up and down our country, confident that apart from the mad fanatics of the fuzzy muslim rag-heads, and the politically correct who wish to stop us even smiling, we don’t have all that much to worry about; and as we bake in this slightly un-British sunshine, remember the THIRTY THOUSAND American flyers who gave their lives so we might watch in peace!
Image courtesy of Keith Ferris and the Smithsonian Museum