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We're back to looking to the future on the blog today with the second post in our Big Reveal 2018 series. Today's focus involves two of our longest aviation series, Aircraft of the Aces and Combat Aircraft. Take a look at the descriptions below and let us know which of our 2019 titles you'll be adding to your wishlist!

Aircraft of the Aces

ACE: Ju 88 Aces of World War 2

Initially designed as a fast medium bomber, the Junkers Ju 88 was also used as a Zerstörer heavy fighter by the Luftwaffe. The aircraft made its combat debut over Poland in 1939, and heavy fighter variants saw action on every front up to VE Day. The ultimate Ju 88 fighter variant was the G-model of 1944, which boasted a FuG 220 or 227 radar, an astounding array of cannon and machine gun armament and advanced Junkers Jumo or BMW engines.

A dedicated nightfighter, the first Ju 88G-1s entered service with the Nachtjagd in the summer of 1944, replacing Ju 88C/Rs as well as some Bf 110Gs. Despite suffering heavy losses in the final months of the war, Ju 88Gs also inflicted serious casualties on Bomber Command throughout the war.

From patrolling over the Bay of Biscay, to the Arctic circle opposing Allied convoys and, most successfully, as radar-equipped nightfighters engaging RAF heavy bombers during Defence of the Reich operations from late 1941, this is the story of the Ju 88 aces who menaced Allied aircraft and shipping throughout World War 2.

Combat Aircraft

COM: B-58 Hustler Units

In the early 1950s the primacy of the bomber had yet to be seriously challenged by ballistic missiles, and designers still concentrated on delivering decisive attacks with fast, high-flying aircraft carrying nuclear weapons to bring a swift end to enemy aggression. Creating a large aircraft that was capable of Mach 2 at 63,000 ft seemed to be the way to avoid hostile fighters, but it presented a formidable challenge. Convair drew on its experience with the 1952 delta XP-92 fighter which, in turn, relied upon wartime German data on delta-wing structures and behaviour. That led to the firm’s supersonic F-102 Delta Dagger, which pioneered area rule as a means of reducing transonic drag, and its Mach 2 successor the F-106 Delta Dart, America’s first line of defence from 1959. Convair’s delta B-58 resembled an enlarged, 20 ft longer F-106 with four podded engines and a three-man crew, but capable of similar speeds and operational altitudes. Far faster than any of its contemporaries, and most interceptors, the B-58 provided a credible nuclear threat to Soviet Bloc military targets.

COM: Dornier Do 17 Units of World War 2

Initially designed as a high-speed mail aeroplane and airliner, the Do 17 first made an appearance as a military aircraft in the Spanish Civil War both in the bomber and reconnaissance roles. At the start of World War 2, it formed, together with the Heinkel He 111, the backbone of the German bomber arm over Poland, France, Belgium and the Low Countries. However, by the start of the Battle of Britain, the Do 17’s limited range and small bomb load meant that it was ripe for replacement by the Ju 88. Dornier Do 17 Units of World War 2 is the full operational story of one of Nazi Germany’s best light bomber from the early years of the war.

COM: F-80 Shooting Star Units of the Korean War

Built within a 180-day time period in 1943, the F-80 Shooting Star just missed seeing active in World War 2. It was, however, sent to bases in the US, Europe and the Far East after VJ Day. The latter groups based in Japan initially bore the brunt of the early fighting in Korea, engaging MiG-15s in the world’s first jet-versus-jet combat. The F-80 served until the end of the war, completing an astonishing 98,515 combat sorties, shooting down 17 aircraft, dropping more than 33,000 tons of bombs, and firing in excess of 80,000 air-to-ground rockets. Aside from the fighter-bomber Shooting Stars, the rare, but heavily used, photo-reconnaissance RF-80A saw extensive use in the frontline in Korea as a replacement for the vulnerable RF-51D.

COM: Me 210/410 Zerstörer Units

Intended as a progressive development of the twin-engined Bf 110 Zerstörer, the Me 210 first took to the air in September 1939. However, due to a lack of sufficient flight-testing before being declared service-ready, the Me 210 suffered from a poor reputation in respect to its flight characteristics and weak undercarriage. With enhancements made to the fuselage and wings, as well as providing extra power, the Me 210 became the Me 410 in late 1942.

But by this stage of the war much was expected of the two types, which were forced to fly in very dangerous skies over North Africa and in the defence of the German homeland. Both aircraft were deployed as heavy fighters, fighter-bombers, reconnaissance platforms and interceptors. The Me 410 was fitted with 30 mm cannon, 21 cm underwing mortars and the colossal 5 cm BK cannon that was intended to pack a punch against the USAAF’s four-engined bombers which commenced operations over the Reich in daylight in large numbers from mid-1943.

COM: RF-101 Voodoo Units in Combat

McDonnell’s F-101 Voodoo series was in many ways the most interesting of the ‘Century Series’ fighter programmes of the 1950s, partly because the type’s design and intended mission changed radically during a 40-year career. Originally created to serve as a fighter-bomber, it was converted into a reconnaissance aircraft, serving alongside the U-2 and RF-8 Crusaders during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War. Although the Voodoo gained a reputation for being a difficult aircraft to fly, the jet’s supersonic speed and newly-developed camera suite enabled it to conduct vital low-altitude photo-reconnaissance missions over heavily-defended target areas.

In combat, the RF 101 was usually ‘first in-last out’ for strike missions. This made the jet a ready target, with a solo aircraft tasked with flying straight and level to gather target photo evidence at low-altitude offering enemy gunners plenty of opportunity to shoot the Voodoo down.