Over the past century in the military aviation industry, some fighters have been nicknamed “flying coffins”.

F2A Buffalo

Topping the list of “Flying Coffins” is the F2A Buffalo fighter. When it was first born, this was an all-metal structural aircraft, certainly the very modern qualities of that period.

The F2A Buffalo was designed as an aircraft carrier-based fighter, but it was severely damaged by the Japanese Navy and Air Force in the early days of World War II. The reason was that the F2A Buffalo had poor maneuverability, limited firepower, relatively slow speed and poor ability to operate at high altitudes.

So the F2A Buffalo fighter was simply not the opponent of Japan’s best pilots. After the first few months of the war, the surviving Buffalos were sent off as trainers.

The F-104 has a higher crash rate than any other interceptor line fighter
The F-104 has a higher crash rate than any other interceptor fighter

F7U Cutlass

Second on the list is the US Navy’s first jet fighter, the F7U Cutlass. This was an attempt by the US Navy to develop an aircraft carrier-based jet fighter, but it was a complete failure.

Considered a revolution compared to traditional aircraft design, the F7U encountered many technical problems during its short service time. Four test pilots and 21 other US Navy pilots were killed while flying the F7U. More than a quarter of the total F7U built was destroyed by accident.

F3H Demon

Third on the list, is also a model of aircraft carrier-based fighter. In the early days of the jet, it was the F3H Demon, developed by McDonnell. This was a swept-wing, single-engine and subsonic speed fighter.

An aircraft carrier-based fighter should have a powerful and reliable engine, but the F3H Demon’s engine did not. Both Westinghouse J40 and later Allison J71 engines equipped on the F3H were ineffective.

F-102 Delta Dagger

Another model of the US Air Force’s “flying coffin” is the F-102 Delta Dagger supersonic interceptor aircraft. Due to threats from the Soviet long-range bomber force, the United States developed a number of high-speed jet interceptors during the 1950s.

The original F-102 Delta Dagger was unable to achieve supersonic speed, so a redesign was required. The F-102 also had difficulty operating at high altitudes, a weakness unacceptable to an interceptor aircraft.

F-104 Starfighter

At the bottom of this list is the F-104 Starfighter developed by Lockheed. The F-104 was an interceptor aircraft, serving in a number of different air forces since 1958. In Vietnam, the F-104 was unsuccessful as a ground attack.

The F-104 had an extremely high crash rate, higher than any interceptor aircraft in the 20th century. The problem was much worse for the Canadian and German Air Force. Crashes had many causes, but in general single-engine fighters with a small wing area would be susceptible to malfunction.


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