Air Superiority: The Military Aircraft Quiz

By: Staff

What military aircraft is the fastest manned, air-breathing plane in the world?

The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird set the official record of 2,193 mph in 1976.

What is notable about the Harrier Jump Jet?

The Harrier Jump Jet was developed to take off and land in small spaces, without a long runway.

What kind of engine was originally going to be used in the experimental XB-70 Valkyrie?

The idea of powering the XB-70 with a nuclear reactor was abandoned when it became clear how costly and potentially disastrous it would be.

What is the largest airplane in the world?

The An-225 is larger and heavier than any other plane in the world. Only one was built, although it's currently in commercial service and no longer a military plane. It is almost six stories tall.

What plane did Britain produce in greater numbers than any other during World War II?

More than 20,000 Supermarine Spitfires were produced. The plane was instrumental in the Battle of Britain.

What is the maximum payload of the B-52 Stratofortress?

The B-52s 70,000-pound capacity, performance and upgradability have allowed it to remain in service for more than 60 years.

What U.S. World War II fighter plane had a distinctive twin tail shape?

The P-38's twin tails gave it very stable aerodynamics, but it was not the most agile plane. It excelled as a heavy fighter and in fighter/bomber missions.

The Yak-3 was a fighter plane used by what nation during World War II?

The Yakovlev Yak-3 was a small, light but extremely agile fighter deployed by Soviet forces in World War II.

The P-40 Warhawk was the primary aircraft of what famous American fighter group, known for their toothy nose art?

The Flying Tigers were a volunteer group of U.S. pilots that fought in China against Japan. The shark mouth insignia on their airplanes was (and still is) the most iconic nose art in the world.

What was the name of the B-29 Superfortress that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima?

The pilot named the Enola Gay for his mother, Enola Gay Tibbets. The airplane is on display at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum annex at Dulles International Airport.

What World War II bomber was featured in the movie, "Memphis Belle?"

Ones of the B-17s used in the movie is still flown today with the Memphis Belle name. The real Memphis Belle that inspired the movie is now on display at the National Museum of the United States Airforce.

What primary role does the AH-64 Apache helicopter play?

With its 30 mm chain gun and Hellfire missiles, the Apache is a formidable attack helicopter.

During what war were aerial balloons first used on a large scale for military purposes?

The Union had a balloon corps that performed mapping and observation duties in the Civil War.

The Waco CG-4A differed from almost every other combat aircraft in World War II because it was missing what?

The Waco was a combat glider, towed behind a C-47. It had no engine of its own.

The A-10 Thunderbolt II is commonly known by what nickname?

Its ungainly appearance earned the A-10 the Warthog nickname. There were 716 of these built, and they're still in use today.

The Ilyushin ll-2 Sturmovik fighter is a good example of Soviet industrial capacity during World War II. How many of these did the Russians produce?

The Soviets put over 36,000 Sturmoviks in the air during the war. They are a type of ground-attack aircraft.

Near the end of World War II, the U.S. captured a German Ho 229 V3. What was it?

The Ho 229 was a flying wing, a plane with no fuselage. Only three of them were ever built and used by the Luftwaffe.

Which plane was the first jet to be used in combat?

The Messerschmitt Me 262 was probably the most advanced plane of World War II, but because it was an example of a piece of cutting edge of technology, that made it complicated and difficult to maintain.

The planes widely known as "Zeroes" were used by what nation in World War II?

Allied forces developed codenames for Japanese aircraft because the Japanese designations were complicated and hard to differentiate. The official codename for the Zero was Zeke.

What was the only jet fighter used by the Allies in World War II?

Nearly 4,000 Gloster Meteors were built, entering service in 1944. They were officially retired in the 1980s, after serving a second life as Royal Air Force target tugs.

The Sopwith Camel was a successful British fighter plane from what war?

When Snoopy pretends to be a World War I flying ace, he flies an imaginary Sopwith Camel.

The Fokker Dr.I was a tri-wing World War I fighter plane commonly associated with what legendary German pilot?

Manfred von Richthofen flew several different types of aircraft during World War I, but the distinctive look of the Dr.I's three wings made it more notorious than the others.

Reduced radar signature and lowered thermal emissions are key aspects of what kind of military aircraft technology?

Stealth aircraft are designed to have radar signatures far smaller than their actual size and to diffuse and mask the thermal output of the engines.

What was the first stealth fighter ever used in combat?

The F-117 Nighthawk first saw action in Panama in 1989. As of 2016, the U.S. is the only nation to have used stealth aircraft in combat.

The Avro Vulcan bomber accidentally achieved what characteristic due to its design?

Stealth technology wasn't really a consideration when the Vulcan was designed in the 1950s, but its sleek design with enclosed engines and a low-profile fuselage made it more difficult to detect on radar than almost any other aircraft of its era.

What U.S. jet fighter, in use by the U.S. Navy from the 1970s through the early 2000s, was featured in the movie "Top Gun?"

Goose, Maverick and Iceman flew F-14 Tomcats. Over 700 of them were built.

The Bell UH-1 helicopter, used heavily by U.S. troops in Vietnam, was known by what nickname?

Hueys played a number of roles in Vietnam, including assault missions and medical evacuation of troops.

What powerful U.S. fighter jet was discontinued partly because there were simply no other planes in the world that could challenge it, reducing the need to produce more?

The F-22 Raptor was literally too good. The more versatile F-35 will be the primary fighter for the U.S. military instead in the coming decades.

What is the name of the jet fighter currently in use with five different European nations?

The Eurofighter Typhoon was designed and built via a multi-nation effort. Several Middle Eastern nations are also using it.

What two jet fighters were the most advanced and most likely to face each other over Vietnam in the 1960s and 70s?

F-4 Phantom IIs and MiG-21s engaged in many duels in the skies above Vietnam. The U.S. ended their involvement with the war in 1973.

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About This Quiz

Aircraft have been part of military tactics and strategy since before airplanes were invented. During the mid-nineteenth century, military balloons were used for surveillance of surrounding territories.  

Air superiority has been an important part of military engagement ever since. From balloons to drones, the ability to see and fight from high above the earth has given nations with the best aircraft the best chance at winning wars.

Some advances in aircraft technology make sense--like the development of planes that are difficult to see on radar. But other advances, like that of the Douglas SBD Dauntless, a dive-bomber whose wings look like Swiss cheese, are more remarkable for their ingenuity. 

Do you consider yourself an aircraft know-it-all? Do you know which airplane is the largest in the world? Can you name the volunteer pilot group that popularized aircraft nose art? Take this quiz to see how much you know about aircraft history and technology. We're sure you'll pass with flying colors!

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