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The future we used to have – special


These jetpunk posts are chiefly meant to be eye candy for those who like retro-futurist stuff, especially machines. Cars. Rockets. Aeroplanes. Submarines. Ships. Moon bases. Space stations. Stuff like that. So it occurred to me I might as well do the occasional post focusing on only one of those. And I could make it a sort of top ten. Like Top Trumps.

So, first up, it’s aircraft. These are my own choices, the ten military aeroplanes I find most emblematic of the future we used to have…

Avro Vulcan
V-Bomber (GB)
crew 5
max speed 1,040 kph
range 4,171 km
max ceiling 17,000 m
service 1956 – 1984

Handley Page Victor
V-Bomber (GB)
crew 5
max speed 1,009 kph
range 9,660 km
max ceiling 17,000 m
service 1958 – 1993

North American XB-70 Valkyrie
Prototype supersonic bomber (USA)
crew 2
max speed 3,309 kph
range 6,900 km
max ceiling 23,600 m
service n/a

North American X-15
Hypersonic research aircraft (USA)
crew 1
max speed 7,274 kph
range 450 km
max ceiling 108,000 m
service 1959 – 1970

Convair B-58 Hustler
Supersonic bomber (USA)
crew 2
max speed 2,123 kph
range 3,220 km
max ceiling 19,300 m
service 1960 – 1970

Tupolev Tu-22 ‘Shilo’ (‘Blinder’)
Supersonic bomber (USSR)
crew 3
max speed 1,510 kph
range 4,900 km
max ceiling 13,300 m
service 1962 – 1990s

Prototype strike/reconaissance aircraft (GB)
crew 2
max speed 1,348 kph
range 4,630 km
max ceiling 12,000 m
service n/a

Avro Arrow
Prototype supersonic interceptor (CA)
crew 2
max speed 2,185 kph
range 660 km
max ceiling 16,150 m
service n/a

BAC/English Electric Lightning
Supersonic interceptor (GB)
crew 1
max speed 2,100 kph
range 1,660 km
max ceiling 16,000 m
service 1959 – 1988

Convair B-36 Peacemaker
Bomber (USA)
crew 13
max speed 672 kph
range 16,000 km
max ceiling 13,300 m
service 1949 – 1959



12 thoughts on “The future we used to have – special

  1. It’s a shame, isn’t it, that the most iconic machines of an age tend to be instruments of death and destruction.

  2. Oh, the irony of a long-range bomber called ‘peacemaker’. Goes to show that it’s not only Banksian GSV’s who have a sense of humor.

    • There’s a Jimmy Stewart film called Strategic Air Command in which he captains a B-36, and then transfers to a B-47. It’s basically an extended recruiting film for SAC, but it’s great if you like Cold War bombers.

  3. Some great aircraft there (personal favourite is the Vulcan of course, but also the Lightning and Victor).

    I’d also vote for the Ekranoplan, though it’s arguable whether it would fall into the aircraft or sea vessel category…

  4. Get yourself to East Fortune airfield next time you’re up Edinburgh way, Ian. It’s the Scottish National Museum of Flight. Here’s a list of their aircraft:

    They’ve also got a Blue Streak.

  5. What sort of travesty has you ignoring that coolest of war planes the double winged Swedish Viggen?

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