Of the RAF's trio of four engines heavy bombers in the Second World War, the mighty Short Stirling was the first to enter service in August 1940. A total of 2,371 Stirlings were eventually built and flown by the RAF before the type was finally withdrawn from service in July 1946. From its first raid in February 1941 the Stirling was at the forefront of the night offensive against Germany. At the peak of its operational career with Bomber Command in 1943, 12 squadrons were equipped with giant bomber before unacceptably high losses forced its relegation to second line duties.
On July 20, 1969, US astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. The Apollo 11 mission that carried him and his two fellow astronauts on their epic journey marked the successful culmination of a quest that, ironically, had begun in Nazi Germany thirty years before. This is the story of the Apollo 11 mission and the ‘space hardware’ that made it all possible. Author Chris Riley looks at the evolution and design of the mighty Saturn V rocket, the Command and Service Modules, and the Lunar Module. He also describes the space suits worn by the crew, with their special life support systems. Launch procedures are described, ‘flying’ the Saturn V, navigation, course correction ‘burns’, orbital rendezvous techniques, flying the LEM, moon landing, moon walk, take-off from the moon, and earth re-entry procedure. Includes performance data, fuels, biographies of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, Gene Kranz and Werner von Braun. Detailed appendices cover all of the Apollo missions, with full details of crews, spacecraft names and logos, mission priorities, moon landing sites, and the Lunar Rover.
Officially called the Fighting Falcon by the USAF (a name loathed by pilots and ground crews), the F-16 is popularly referred to as the "Viper". First introduced into service with the USAF in 1978, the F-16 is a successful all-weather multi-role jet fighter of which more than 4,500 have been built and exported to 25 countries worldwide. It remains in service more than 30 years later. The Viper incorporates a number of innovative design features that include a frameless bubble canopy for better visibility, pilot's side-mounted control stick for ease of control when manoeuvring, a seat reclined 30 degrees to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot, and the first use of a relaxed static stability/fly-by-wire flight control system that makes the Viper a highly agile aircraft. At the 'business end' the F-16 has an internal M61 Vulcan cannon and eleven weapon-mounting stations.
By the time the so-called 'Stealth Fighter' was acknowledged to the world in November 1988 it had already been in service with the USAF for five years. A product of the Lockheed Skunk Works, the F-117 Nighthawk was the first operational aircraft to be designed around stealth technology. Although popularly known as the stealth fighter it was actually a ground-attack aircraft.
Throughout its 34-year Cold War career with the USAF and CIA, the top secret Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird spy plane was the world's fastest and highest-flying operational manned aircraft. Dedicated to strategic reconnaissance, the Blackbird was so fast that no other aircraft could catch it. The co-authors are world authorities on the Blackbird and give rare insights into the secret world of the SR-71, its genesis, construction and anatomy (including its use of stealth technology), and its operation and maintenance in peace and war.