Air & Space Airshow Spotter's Guide
You know how to tell a Viper from a Hornet, but does your airshow-newbie friend? Here are recognition tips, bite-size histories, specs and info links for the airplanes most likely to appear at airshows this year.
- By airspacemag.com
- AirSpaceMag.com, April 01, 2012
Illustrations by Harry Whitver
How to recognize: Enormous half-circle intakes flanking the fuselage; drooping wings; loud. Earplugs mandatory.
Claim to fame at airshows: Uses its vertical takeoff and hovering ability to face the crowd at low altitude and bow.
Claim to fame in service: The AV-8B Harrier’s ability to take off vertically or perform a short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) allows it be deployed with ground units has earned it the nickname, Jump-jet.
Its engine nozzles can pivot through an arc of 110 degrees, so that its thrust can help it to take off vertically or can swing to the rear to produce its forward speed. If you see the Harrier parked on the ramp, you may see this degree of motion marked on its fuselage.
Mission: The AV-8B single seat Vertical/Short Takeoff and Land (V/STOL) aircraft has served as the primary close air support, intermediate range intercept, and attack mission fixed-wing aircraft for the US Marine Corps, as well as for the Spanish and Italian navies. The AV-8B has seen service in the Persian Gulf for Desert Storm, Somalia with both the U.S. and Italian AV-8Bs, and Bosnia for peacekeeping operations. The Harrier can deploy to and operate from aircraft carriers.
Key Contractors or Manufacturers: McDonnell Douglas Aircraft (airframe), Rolls-Royce (Pegasus powerplant) First model introduced: 1985
Performance and Specifications: Maximum airspeed of AV-8B: 550 KCAS Maximum range: 900 nm Able to carry up to 9,000 lbs of ordnance on seven stations, such as the Mk 83 1,000-lb GP bomb; GBU-12 500-lb LGB, GBU-16 1,000 LGB, CBU-99/100 Cluster Bomb Units, and 2.75" and 5" rockets.
Main variants: The AV-8B, GR.Mk 7, and Mk 9, and TAV-8B. Empty operating weight of the AV-8B is 6,336 kg. Maximum takeoff weight of the AV-8B including its fuel, stores, weapons, ammunition and a water-injection system for the engines is 14,061 kg.
FAS Harrier Page