10. Supermarine Seafire Mk XV
The first Griffon-engined Seafires did not like being on carriers. They had a tendency to veer to the right on take-off, smashing into the carrier’s island superstructure.
9. McDonnell F3H Demon
An unreliable single engine prone to compressor stalls and flame-outs, insufficient power. Oh..and a dodgy ejection seat. You can learn more about Demon losses here.
8. Supermarine Scimitar
Too much too soon. High maintenance hours, an appalling attrition rate of 51 per cent. A worse fighter than the Sea Vixen, a worse bomber than the Buccaneer. Find the ten most expensive cancelled aircraft here
7. Ryan FR-1 Fireball
The Fireball had unreliable engines and a flawed undercarriage. It was also the wrong concept.
6. AV-8A (and to a lesser extend B)
By 2003 143 major AV-8 non-combat accidents, killing 45 aviators, destroying one third of the Harrier fleet.
5. Blackburn Firebrand
An evil, scandalous pilot-killer.
4. Westland Wyvern
“Weighing 650 pounds shy of a loaded Dakota it was nonetheless expected to operate off dinky 1950s RN carriers. Tellingly, its main claim to aviation immortality derives not from any superlative quality of the aeroplane itself but a desperate desire to escape it.” Of 127 built, 39 were lost to accidents.
Learn more about the bizarre Wyvern here.
3. Yakovlev Yak-38
The rather cute Yak-38 had a tiny range and a tiny weapon load. In some ways it had the offensive capabilities of a World War I fighter, it also didn’t like taking-off when the weather was any warmer than tepid. On a related subject, there’s a great article on Britain’s P.1154 here.
2. Blackburn Roc
A maximum speed (at sea level) of 194 mph was simply suicidal for a fighter facing the Luftwaffe’s ’109s. Add terrible agility, no forward-firing guns and you get the idea. Wisely, the military decided the best use for it was as a static machine-gun post!
1. Vought F7U Cutlass
Today’s F-35 may get criticized for not being able to fly near an electrical storm but the ‘Gutless Cutlass’ had a very alarming tendency to flame-out in rain. Even when the engines behaved themselves it was still an underpowered flop. There’s more on Cutlass loses here.
Type selection by Combat Aircraft‘s Thomas Newdick. If you enjoyed this you will love Essential Aircraft
Identification Guide: Carrier Aircraft 1917–Present . You should also enjoy our other Top Tens! There’s a whole feast of fantastic British, French, Swedish, Australian, Japanese , Belgian, German and Latin American aeroplanes. Want something more bizarre? The Top Ten fictional aircraft is a fascinating read as is the Top Ten cancelled fighters.
Read an interview with a Super Hornet pilot here.
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