5 Cold War US Mach 2 Fighters and Bombers
Lockheed F-104 Starfighter – A US built single-engined supersonic interceptor aircraft, the F-104 achieved first flight in March 1954 and entered service four years later with the US Air Force. Popularly referred as “the missile with a man inside” it was powered by a single General Electric J79-GE-11A afterburning turbojet. It could attain a maximum speed in excess of mach 2 (1,328 mph /2,125kph) however with its poor safety record, the aircraft design suffered a series of modifications until its eventual retirement. A total of 2,575 Starfighters were built by the manufacturer and under license in other countries.
Convair F-106 Delta Dart - Manufactured by Convair which later became part of General Dynamics, the F-106 was a primary and all weather interceptor which had its first flight in 1956 and began service with the US Air Force in June 1959. It was developed from the F-102 Delta Dagger and powered by a single Pratt and Whitney J75-17 afterburning turbojet giving it a maximum speed of mach 2.3 (1,525 mph / 2,455 kph). About 342 F-106s were manufactured which remained in active service with the USAF until their retirement in August 1988.
Republic F-105 Thunderchief - A supersonic fighter-bomber manufactured by Republic Aviation, the F-105 took its first flight in October 1955 before it was placed on active service with the US Air Force in May 1958. It was considered the largest single engined, single seat fighter utilized by the USAF capable of bomb load heavier than most 4 engined strategic bombers of World War II like the B-17 and B-24. Power comes from a single Pratt and Whitney J75-P-19W afterburning turbojet giving it a maximum speed of mach 2.08 (1,372 mph /2,208 km/h) at 36,000 ft. A total of 833 F-105s were built which served with the USAF until their retirement in February 1986.
McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II – A tandem seat, twin engined, all weather jet interceptor fighter and fighter bomber rolled into one, the F-4 was primarily developed for the US Navy by Mc Donnell Douglas. First flight was achieved in May 1958 and introduction to active service with the US Navy began in December 1960. With its remarkable performance, the US Marine Corps and US Air Force later adopted it as an integral part of their air wings. Powered by 2 General Electric J79-GE-17A axial compressor turbojets, the F-4 is a large fighter capable of maximum speeds up to mach 2.23 (1,472 mph / 2,370 kph) at 40,000 ft. This type of aircraft also gained recognition as the last fighter aircraft flown allowing its pilots to attain ace status in the 20th century. It happened in the Vietnam War where one USAF pilot and one Navy pilot gained their aces in air to air combat. About 5,195 F-4s were built with more than 600 in active service (some in air forces outside US and others remained in the US utilized as target drones).
Convair B-58 Hustler - The first operational supersonic jet bomber capable of speeds exceeding mach 2, the B-58 Hustler first took off on 11 November 1956 and was formally introduced in 15 March 1960 serving the Strategic Air Command (SAC) of the US Air Force. It was brought by the B-58 program that was conceptualized in February 1949 as a result of the Generalized Bomber Study (GEBO II) issued by the Air Research and Development Command (ARDC) at Wright- Patterson Air Force Base. Powered by 4 General Electric J79-GE-5A turbojets allowing it a maximum speed of mach 2.0 (1,319 mph /2,122 kph), the sonic boom typical of supersonic fighters travelling at maximum speed gained notoriety for this type of aircraft when it passed overhead. About 116 B-58s were built which were retired in January 1970.